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Silchester Players - Curtain Up on Murder

11th to 12th and 18th to 19th October 2013.

Review from the Newbury Weekly news.

Silchester Players: Curtain Up on Murder, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, October 11, Saturday, October 12, Friday, October 18, and Saturday, October 19

It should have been just another rehearsal evening for Martin and his aspiring amateur dramatic group as they gathered together to go through the lines for their next production. However, the signs were there – the mysterious stand-in caretaker, the brewing storm, the remote location of the little end-of-pier theatre – that this was going to be no ordinary night.

Silchester Players tackled Bettine Manktelow's comic thriller with their customary energy and enthusiasm, and extra touches like the well-chosen dramatic incidental music helped ensure the audience was quickly drawn into the action.

This was a very accomplished first-night performance, and the actors all seemed comfortable in their roles. Keith Graham clearly relished the part of caretaker Harry, chirpy yet slightly unsettling, while Sarah Oliver's Sylvia was extremely polished and convincing. Brian Gillett as Alex brought wry humour to the part, expressing his thoughts and confusion skilfully through fleeting facial expressions.

I found the role of Martin a little too blasé to be believed, but Nick Lock handled it well, while Janice Garrard's Moppet was a delightful mixture of angst, theatricality and nicotine deprivation.

Claire Humphreys came across well as Linda, Alex's suspicious partner, her caring character nicely contrasting with the shallowness of some of the group members. Sasha Keeley and Leanne Qurrey worked well together as the young backstage team Ginny and Sandra, making mischief behind the scenes; they both seemed a little nervous at first but quickly settled into their roles.

Curtain up on Murder has more twists and turns than the average whodunit despite its short length, and it has a genuinely surprising ending which I won't spoil here.