Guildonians at Harold Wood Methodist Church Hall
“The play's the thing ...”
David Tristram's “haunting comedy” gleefully blends Shakespeare and Blithe Spirit in a clever whodunnit with plenty of laughs, plus a scream and a shudder or two along the way.
A grotty bedsit at 2B Elsinore Gardens, where playwright Edward [Tim Tilbury] is discovered, in an impressive opening tableau, about to make his quietus with a revolver. He's rescued, not for the first time, we surmise, by his cuddly, camp landlord from downstairs [Tom Hind]. But, spoilers hard to avoid here, his ex-wife, the late Ruby – a lively, likeable Chrissie O'Connor – appears, like Peter Pan, through the open window and demands he avenge her “murder most foul”.
In Susie Faulkner's pacy production there's lots of Coward-ly fun and crackling cross-talk with this mischievous spectre, before the hapless Edward agrees to round up a suspect or two and catch the villain out as they read through his new play, remarkably similar to the “real-life” dialogue we've just heard, where one confession follows another, drinks are poisoned, and mind-games play out over the gin ...
Sounds complicated ? So it is, but witty and well crafted, and confidently delivered by an experienced cast. The principals are joined by Abi Farenden as an innocent actress, Enid Law as the grande dame Frances, and Iain Attiwell relishing every moment as the ageing luvvie in a strawberry wig.
The set, with its supernatural special effects, is well designed and nicely dressed, with movie memorabilia and some pretty posters from the professional house just up the road ...