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Ravensbury Players - Murdered to Death

19th to 22nd November 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Plot twisted and turned

Ravensbury Players: Murdered to Death, at Ramsbury Memorial Hall, from Wednesday, November 19 to Saturday, November 22

Picture the scene: a country house weekend, a dotty, rich, old lady and her retiring niece, a frisky Colonel, a French art dealer, a drunken butler and a local sleuth, not to mention a murder or two. An Agatha Christie thriller?

No, but a hugely entertaining spoof written by Peter Gordon that delighted the first night audience of The Ravensbury Players and had them chuckling with delight.

Murdered to Death is a play in which some of the characters are not always what they appear to be; the butler, the colonel the art dealer and his accomplice and of course 'Miss Maple'.

The spelling of the name gives a clue of what is to come, and the script, while funny (and often corny) is clever and still gives a good framework with enough twists and turns to keep the audience guessing.

Director Sheila Hobbs had a well-balanced cast to work with and they did her proud with fine characterisations.

Jessica Perkins was effective as the mousy Dorothy, niece of elderly Mildred, (a strong performance from Margaret Petchey) and Michael Franklin gave good value as the deadpan butler Bunting, giving us a particularly good drunk scene.

There were good performances too from the 'guests' - Colonel Craddock (Dave Hobbs, good stiff upper-lipped comedy), his wife Margaret (Dawn Gill, elegant and feisty), Pierre Marceau (Peter Kearns, very shady and good expressions) and Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington (Penny Setter, glamorous and completely untrustworthy).

Jessie Gunton gave a nicely observed interpretation of Miss Maple, completely immersing herself in the role and Tim Beckwith was excellent as wacky, hapless and appropriately-named Inspector Pratt and was ably assisted (or was it hampered?) by Graham Curtis as Constable Thompkins in another good comedy performance.

The dialogue from some of the characters was a little quiet at times and more projection was needed, but all in all, the plot twisted along nicely and kept our attention from start to finish.

A good set and lighting, with good period costumes of the 1930s all helped to set the scene in an evening of pure entertainment.