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Boundary Players - The Farndale (FAHETGDS) Murder Mystery

8th to 12th May 2012.

This was the NWN review.

Wrong in all the right places

Boundary Players: The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery, at the William Penney Theatre, Tadley, on from Tuesday, May 8 to Saturday, May 12

The illustrious ladies of the Farndale Avenue Townswomen's Guild dropped in to the William Penney Theatre in Aldermaston last week for Boundary Players' latest production.

Murder Mystery is one of a series of play-within-a-play comedies by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Junior, which see the guild members stage various dramatic offerings with equally calamitous results. In this case the production also includes a film show, quiz, and fashion snow, inevitably stretching the group past their capabilities.

Even before the action begins, various parts of the set begin to disintegrate, offering the audience an initial taster of the chaotic evening that they have in store, while the on-going feud between the domineering director Mrs Reece and Thelma the Farndale Avenue Beauty Queen adds further scope for disaster.

The Boundary Players, under director Michele Middleditch and producers Ann Bleloch and Andy Abbott, tackled the production with relish. Although I find the Farndale Avenue formula begins to drag a little after the first hour, there were some very good performances. Gavin Crow, as Gordon (playing the inspector), displayed mounting despair as the Farndale characters forgot lines and props and left him warming his hands by an imaginary fire. The dance routine between Gordon and Thelma (nicely played by Louise Hayling) was particularly good.

Claire Humphreys as Felicity delivered each of her diverse roles - the butler, the colonel, the cook - with great style and humour, battling on bravely despite a serious leg injury (the audience all winced when a suitcase was dropped on her toe.)

Natalie Edgson as Audrey covered several parts, but her double act with Thelma as Lady Bishop's elderly aunts was especially enjoyable.

Pat Archer as the tyrannical Mrs Reece was less forceful than I was expecting, but she was much more at home with the comic characters, particularly Letitia and Regine the French Maid, while her comic corpses were superb.

Despite a lack of polish in some scenes, this was a very enjoyable performance from the Players, and the audience clearly appreciated it. Special mention to Colin Webb's stage team for making sure that everything went wrong at the right moments,