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Silchester Players - The Hollow

9th to 10th and 16th to 17th May 2008.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Intriguing twist in the tale

Silchester Players entertain in Agatha Christie whodunnit

Silchester Players: The Hollow, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, May 9, Saturday, May 10, Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17

It was supposed to be a pleasant weekend in the country with a few friends but, inevitably, it turned out to be murder.

Like many of Agatha Christie's well known novels, The Hollow is full of suspense, with a twist in the tale; but it is also an unusually humorous tale and focuses heavily on the relationships between the characters.

Janet Taylor was expertly cast as Lady Lucy Angkatell, a rather mischievous yet absent minded aristocrat with a twinkle in her eye when she went into rambling mode. She and her husband Sir Henry (nicely acted by Keith Graham) had invited Dr John Cristow and his wife Gerda to their home for a weekend gathering with the Angkatells' many cousins.

Chris Horton and Caroline Martin gave very confident, contrasting performances as, respectively, the ineffectual and dowdy Gerda and the confident outgoing sculptress Henrietta. Both had one thing in common - the love of John Cristow, played with suitable boorishness by Alan Moorhouse.

To make matters worse for the rather arrogant Cristow, his former fiancée the glamorous film star Veronica Craye (portrayed with poise and elegance by Sarah Oliver) calls in to borrow some matches and accidentally re-ignites the fire of their relationship.

The other guests at the weekend party included the sympathetic Midge Harvey (Leanne Qurrey) and Edward Angkatell (thoughtfully played by Brian Gillett), the aristocrat who had everything one could wish for except love - though thankfully Edward and Midge found each other in the end. Tony Oliver gave a strong understated performance as the butler Gudgeon, while Kimberley Tucker was the newly-appointed housemaid Doris who had lots to learn.

When John Cristow was shot just before the interval, there was no shortage of suspects and the excited babble from the audience during the break showed that they were enjoying the plot. In the end it was left to Inspector Colquhoun (Kevin Belcher) and his detective Sergeant Penny (Clive Solomons) to solve the murder. I guess it was Poirot's day off.

As usual at Silchester there was a fine set, with an impressive garden scene and paintings by Kevin Belcher. Although some of the lines were a bit shaky, Silchester Players made a great job of a rather long but intriguing play.

Congratulations to director John Coffin and producer Gill Coffin for a very entertaining whodunnit. In case you haven't seen it, I won't spoil the twist, but I can tell you the butler didn't do it.