DEATH BY FATAL MURDER
Ian Dickens Productions at the Civic THeatre
Peter Gordon's affectionate spoof – part of his popular Pratt trilogy – sets out its stall in the title. Much more farce than thriller, with plot twists galore, it mercilessly pokes fun at a classic genre.
This time we're in the dark days of the Battle of Britain, with land-girls, an enemy alien, and the country house reduced to taking in paying guests in the West Wing.
The first “fatal murder” bumps off Constable Atkins, and brings the bumbling Inspector Pratt [David Callister, making the most of his malapropisms and slick slapstick] and his sidekick, the capable Constable Thompkins [Christoper Elderwood] to the house, closely followed by Ingrid Evans' meddlesome Miss Maypole. These performances are laugh-aloud fun, as are Katy Manning's very Welsh medium Blodwen, Nicola Week's upper-crust land-girl and Richard Gibson's “Stiffy” Allwright, a Baderesque fighter pilot shot down in the drink.
Big name Leslie Grantham does a nice job in what is really a cameo – the lubricious gigolo Garibaldi.
Though of course not all of these characters are what they seem ...
It's a time-honoured tradition to have everyone stand around while the loose ends are tied up, but 20 minutes was beyond a joke, I felt, especially for such an improbable dénouement.
Death By Fatal Murder was directed by Ian Dickens.