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KATS - The Farndale Avenue Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

1st to 3rd August 2019

Review from The Newbury Weekly News.

Utter KATastrophe…

Farndale ladies give us am dram at its funniest

KATS: The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society, at Upper Bucklebury Memorial Hall, from Thursday, August 1 to Saturday, August 3

This production by KATS featured six actors playing six characters playing 13 parts in a play put on by The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society. Complicated? You couldn't make it up.

Basically this is a spoof about dramatic societies putting on plays and having disaster after disaster all the way through.

We began with an introductory talk by Mrs Phoebe Reece, played tongue in cheek as an overbearing chairperson by Mandy Cole. So far so good, but then we had Alison Brownfield as Thelma Greenwood who played the parts of Daphne and Rose Bishop. Mandy Cole was also Clarissa, Regine, Patricia and Letitia Bishop, finally changing gender to portray Mr Goodbody. She did very well in each character, as did Amanda Taylor who, as Audrey Room, played Lady Doreen, Violet, Mrs King and Joan and again brought each individual character to life. Jenny Woolf, masquerading on stage as Felicity Barrett, played Colonel King as a funny little man and did very well as Pawn the butler, playing up his way of getting into wrong positions or forgetting lines and when he was supposed to be on stage and when not. Emma Low, as Ruth Elliott, played Gladys Knight. Also playing Mrs Castle she impressed with her portrayals. Andrew J Smith was Gordon Pugh and on stage he mercifully only had to play Inspector O'Reilly. He gave a straight-ahead performance until it came time to eliminate suspects and name the killer, but then kept forgetting all the names, as indeed he was supposed to. Still with me?

I suspect writers McGilivray and Zerlin had some half-forgotten memories of am dram disasters to draw on. KATS, however, played it all with skill and good timing – you certainly need that to reproduce am dram disasters as they happen and time them exactly as you would playing it straight. This KATS did successfully, opening doors before anybody knocked, picking up a phone and talking before it rang and going stage left to let in someone entering stage right.

It was all there – every cliché and more – and under Janet Kilgallon-Brooks' direction it all worked extremely well.