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Boundary Players - Murder by the Book

9th to 12th May 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Boundary's killer thriller-corn

Boundary Players: Murder by the Book, at the William Penney Theatre, Tadley from Wednesday, May 9, to Saturday, May 12

Billed as a comedy thriller, this play is about Selwyn Piper, an author of books and plays, who also indulges in the sort of critical reviews of other people's work that is less than kind.

Speaking of his actress wife as he dictates to his secretary, he says 'her Lady Macbeth was magnificent', then adds 'the trouble was she was playing Juliet at the time'. Doing well as Selwyn, Steve Schollar managed to convey an arrogant and witty man who seems always to be in control, but he could have learnt his lines a little better. Rachel Silk played his competent and knowing secretary who can always match her employer verbally.

Pat Archer gave a versatile performance as Piper's wife Imogen, appearing first in tatty jeans, a wig and sunglasses and later all dressed up in posh dress, with blonde hair and a big smile.

Andrew Smith played the self-confident Peter Fletcher with a swagger and Mike Huxtable was convincing in the role of the bumbling publisher John Douglas – very much a Derek Jacobi lookalike.

As to the plot, there are more twists and turns than you'd find in Hampton Court Maze.

Written by Duncan Greenwood and Robert D King, it seems that Mrs Piper wants a divorce, but Selwyn won't agree to one, so she plans to kill him. The variations on who tries to do what to whom and who is in league with which character would make the goings-on in Coronation Street seem simple and uncomplicated by comparison.

The play was directed by Colin Webb with generally good pace and stage positioning, but the frequency of certain actors moving backwards and forwards while speaking lines was distracting.

It isn't easy, but is something that needs addressing in such a wordy play as this.