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Kintbury Players - Dame Agatha's Greatest Case

22nd November 2008.

This review was from the Newbury Weekly News.

Dame cracks the case of criminal one-liners

Kintbury Players: Dame Agatha's Greatest Case, at The Coronation Hall, Kintbury, on Saturday, November 22

You know that a performance is going to be good when the set stops you in your tracks. The Coronation Hall stage was transformed into the library at Brandling Hall, complete with sofas, tables and a fireplace. Every last detail, down to the miniatures on the wall, was in keeping and made solidly - a great asset when so many doors have to be opened and shut.

The scene to this spoof Agatha Christie was set by the three maids preparing the house for weekend party guests. Nora, Dora and Cora turned from G&S' Three Little Maids from School to Three Little Maids at Work. Very well sung, full of double entendres and much suggestive winking.

Their boss was Gilbert the Butler, who could shower a crowd with his alliteration. However, it wasn't his verbal dexterity that had the audience howling with laughter, but the Freddy Frinton walk, complete with the hand movements. Well done Pete Watson.

Lord and Lady Brandling, played by Judith Nye and Rick Middleton, entered to run through the guest list, which ranged from American filmstars to Dame Agatha Crustie and Sullivan, her companion. They too launched into G&S, which gave Judith Nye the opportunity to use her beautiful singing voice.

Their first guest arrived - young louche Tarquin Pennington Shaw, played by Nick Barrett. I have only seen him in pantomime before and it is evident that Kintbury Players have a very talented young man in their midst. Not so much the spoken word but facial and hand expressions that said it all.

The other guests were Myrna Lerner, the Hollywood starlet played by Debbie Spencer - who managed to maintain her American accent - and the Rt Hon Humphrey Yewtern and his long suffering wife Penelope.

No one was surprised when Dame Agatha arrived and it was Kintbury's own pantomime dame, Gerry Heaton, but it was a surprise to see him, not in his overblown glory, but as a smartly-dressed, rotund lady with a penchant for long bloomers. What impressed me was his ability to keep the voice at just the right female pitch and get the mannerisms right.

This was a real whodunit, with players' newcomer Jonathon Meyer as the Rt Hon being poisoned and taking considerable time dying and casting suspicion on nearly all the guests.

We had villains, real cops, a charlady and of course the murder weapon. In no time at all, Dame Agatha had solved this crime of passion, but not before we had had several more G&S choruses and some terrible one-liners.

This was certainly one of the best performances I have ever seen and every member of the cast was superb. Great direction by Chris Trigwell, production by Phillip Wilson and teamwork from the cast and backstage crew.