Mortimer Dramatic Society
Death By Design, 27th to 28th May and 3rd to 4th June 2016
The wit of Noel Coward meets the sort of outrageously funny characters from a Bertie Wooster farce in an Agatha Christie murder mystery. Set during a weekend in an English country manor in 1932, Death by Design is a delightful and mysterious “mash-up”. Edward Bennett, a playwright, and his wife Sorel Bennett, an actress, flee London and head to the country after a disastrous opening night. But various guests arrive unexpectedly – a conservative politician, a fiery socialist, a near-sighted ingenue, a zany modern dancer – each with a long-held secret. When one of the guests is murdered, it’s left to Bridgit, the feisty maid with a macabre interest in homicide, to solve the crime.
St John's Hall, 22 West End Road, Mortimer Common, RG7 3TF.
Book online via the website or call Tom on 0778 533 3321 or Terri Chopping on 0118 966 2206.
Review of Beyond a Joke
23rd to 24th October and 30th to 31st October 2015
Review from Newbury Theatre.
Derek Benfield’s comedy Beyond a Joke is an unlikely story about a house with a problem – visitors seem prone to fatal accidents. The tally is six so far, and counting. Jane and Andrew own the house, and their daughter Sally, her boyfriend Geoff and Jane’s sister Sarah are joining them for the weekend. Geoff finds out about the deaths, but gets hold of the wrong end of the stick: he thinks that Andrew and Jane have murdered them. When more people turn up, the situation gets complicated.
Mari Fleming and Tom Shorrock are well matched as Jane and Andrew, and bicker as married couples do; Andrew just wants a quiet life, and takes things in his stride, leaving Jane to do the hard work. Geoff is a very difficult character to play; most of the time he’s highly agitated, worrying that Jane and Andrew are going to commit more murders, but he has to mix this with bouts of catatonic depression. Phil Collins got to grips with the role well.
Cathy Ramsell as Sally and Paula Stenson as Sarah did a good job of adding to the confusion. The appearance of the Vicar at the end of Act 1 started the transition from comedy to farce. Darren Reed was excellent as the Vicar, with some lovely facial expressions and a fixed grin as he struggled to fathom what was happening. Towards the end, Geoff’s parents Audrey and Edgar appear. Mary Auckland, as the bird-like Audrey, and James Burton Stewart, as the increasingly sarcastic Edgar, made a good contrast with the other couple. John Bull, as the TV repair man, was a little stiff.
Mortimer Dramatic have got a team of good actors, but the cues needed to be a lot sharper and the entrances quicker, particularly in the farce of the second act. Maybe it was first-night jitters, but nevertheless the laughs were still there.
The two-part set was interesting, nicely finished and worked well – I particularly liked Nick Pounder’s mural – and director Tom Shorrock used the space to good effect.
'Allo 'Allo, 22nd to 30th January 2016
Beyond a Joke, 23rd to 24th October and 30th to 31st October 2015
Kindertransport, 29th to 30th May and 5th to 6th June 2015
Deathtrap, 17th to 18th October and 24th to 25th October 2014. See the review in the archive.
Third Week in August, 30th to 31st May and 6th to 7th June 2014. See the review in the archive.
Murder Mystery Dinner Evening, 17th to 18th January and 24th to 25th January 2014
Kindly Keep It Covered, 18th to 26th October 2013. See the review in the archive.
Calendar Girls, 31st May to 1st June and 7th to 8th June 2013
Entertaining Angels, 19th to 20th October and 26th to 27th October 2012
Natural Causes, 21st to 22nd and 28th to 29th October 2011.
See the review in the Archive.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, 27th to 28th May and 3rd to 4th June 2011
The Amorous Ambassador, 22nd to 23rd and 29th to 30th October 2010. See the review in the Archive.
The Day After The Fair, 28th to 29th May and 4th to 5th June 2010
Another Opening, Another Show, 15th to 16th, 20th and 22nd to 23rd January 2010
Dead Man’s Hand, 29th to 30th May and 5th to 6th June 2009. See the review in the Archive.
The Cemetery Club, 24th to 25th October and 31st October to 1st November 2008
Hobson’s Choice, 30th to 31st May and 6th to 7th June 2008
A Murder Has Been Arranged, 25th to 26th May and 1st to 2nd June 2007. See the review in the Archive.
A Breath of Spring, 2nd to 3rd and 9th to 10th June 2006
Curtains, 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th October 2005. See the review in the Archive.
The Real Inspector Hound and Black Comedy, 29th to 30th April and 6th to 7th May 2005
The Shakespeare Revue, 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th January 2005
The Deep Blue Sea, 22nd, 23rd, 29th and 30th October 2004. See the reviews in the Archive.
Comic Potential, 30th April, 1st, 7th and 8th May 2004. See the reviews in the Archive.
Take Away The Lady, 24th, 25th and 31st October and 1st November 2003.
Local Affairs, 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th May 2003. See the review in the Archive.
Quartet, 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th October 2002. See the review in the Archive.
The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Production Of Macbeth, 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th May 2002. See the review in the Archive.
Abigail's Party, 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th January 2002. See the review in the Archive.
Educating Rita, 19th, 20th, 26th, 27th October 2001. See the review in the Archive.
Spring and Port Wine, 4th, 5th, 11th and 12th May 2001. See the review in the Archive.