Mortimer Dramatic Society
Beyond a Joke, 23rd to 24th October and 30th to 31st October,
By Derek Benfield. This light-hearted English comedy is set in the semi-rural garden and house of a bank manager and his wife, Andrew and Jane. Unfortunate accidents have happened during their tenancy of the house leading them to believe that the house is stigmatised with bad luck. Andrew and Jane have living with them their daughter, Sally, whose boyfriend, Geoff, visits regularly at weekends. It's during one of these visits that Geoff learns of some of the accidents... and draws the wrong conclusions! So a classic comedy twist of 'mistaken identity' ensues. The confusion is further compounded by the introduction of new characters... the arrival of Jane's sister, Sarah; an introductory visit by the new local vicar; and Geoff's parents, Edgar and Audrey, who pop in as they are in the area.
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.
Reviews of Deathtrap
17th to 18th October and 24th to 25th October 2014
Review from Newbury Theatre.
Ira Levin wrote Deathtrap in 1978. It’s a thriller with many twists and surprises, and Mortimer Dramatic Society’s production relocates it from Connecticut to Berkshire – this not only works well but also avoids having to master American accents.
It’s a play about a play, with established playwright Sydney suffering from writer’s block and getting short of money. Unknown new playwright Clifford sends Sydney a copy of his play Deathtrap, which Sydney sees as a work of genius. To the alarm of his wife Myra, Sydney hatches a plot which he hopes will solve his money problems…
Sydney (Darren Reed) is confident and urbane, and clearly a nasty piece of work. This was a strong performance in one of the two main roles. Ian Beavon was the nerdy Clifford – a performance marred on the opening night by stumbling over lines and needing prompts. He wasn’t the only one; it’s hugely distracting for the audience and slows the whole pace down.
Melanie Sherwood, as the nervy Myra, was a bit too nervy for my liking, with lots of hand-wringing. Mary Auckland was convincingly single-minded as the psychic Helga, providing some nice comic moments, and James Burton Stewart was suave and assured as Porter the solicitor.
It was a great set, with lots of weapons and posters on the wall, a big bookcase and an open fire, all well-furnished for the period, but oh dear, the desk! I can believe it’s difficult (and expensive) to find a convincing 'Victorian' desk, but in that case it’s better to cut Porter’s line "What a beauty!"
Director Tom Shorrock made good use of the space and had the characters well differentiated.
An intriguing play with some good acting, but marred by too many prompts.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
The play's the thing
Mortimer Dramatic Society: Deathtrap, at Mortimer Village Hall, on Saturday, October 25
The longest-running thriller with more twists and turns than a Berkshire country road is, of course, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, with 62 years in London's West End and counting. After that there was the unusual Sleuth, and Ira Levin's Deathtrap, with more red herrings than a fishmonger's freezer and holds the record as the longest running thriller on New York Broadway.
A play within a play, it starts out with a bold plot by once-successful Sidney Bruhl and his wife Myra planning to lure a young playwright to their home, murder him and claim his play as the work of Bruhl.
Playing it fairly straight ahead in this MDS production directed by Tom Shorrock, Darren Reed portrayed Sidney well as a scheming, sarcastic character, but might have brought out more of his effeminate side to indicate his actions.
Ian Beavon played Clifford Anderson as quiet and calm, but with an appropriate underlying strength, although he too could have emphasised the gay side of his nature more. Melanie Sherwood as Sidney's wife Myra was twitchy and nervous from the beginning, which did rather diminish the point at which she needed to display those characteristics in abundance.
Mary Auckland portrayed psychic Helga Ten Dorp with a strong foreign accent and James Burton Stewart was very effective as Sidney's attorney.
There was a minimum of movement by the actors and the storm scene could have been more dramatically presented, although the two male leads worked well together in the second act to indicate what was happening.
The play is a very good, complex thriller which needs a lot of hard work to emphasise all the twists and turns of the plot.
Kindertransport, 29th to 30th May and 5th to 6th June 2015
Death Trap, 17th to 18th October and 24th to 25th October 2014
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.