Curtain Up On Murder
Paul Johnson | 06 Oct 2012 19:32pm
Directed by Bern Hutchins, Curtain Up On Murder by Bettine Manktelow was a triumph for Cheshunt Dramatic Society (CDS). When a seaside amateur dramatic company is offered the use of the theatre at the end of the pier they are overjoyed. But, as in all thrillers, the best laid plans of mice and men have a habit of going horribly wrong – sometimes with fatal consequences.
With all the elements one would come to expect from a thriller – a group of people trapped, underlying tensions between the group, the obligatory storm and no means of communicating with the outside world – the sequence of unexpected and unexplained murders kept the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. As the drama unfolded secrets were revealed and tensions magnified as the cast were forced to spend the night together in what appears to be a haunted theatre. Director Bern Hutchins motivated this talented cast to perform to the maximum of their ability. I was particularly impressed with CDS newcomer Paul Matthews who, in his debut role as an actor played the sinister caretaker, Harry – a convincing performance throughout. Later in the play he portrayed the father seeking revenge. Laura Rapley gave a wonderful portrayal of Sandra, the prompt, switching effortlessly from a sweet and thoughtful character in her earlier dealings with Ginny to a more sinister, unhinged side of Sandra in Act two, a part she played with total conviction. I loved the many twists and turns in this play, and the realisation that Harry and Sandra were father and daughter caused quite a few murmurs in the audience, as did Paul Matthews final appearance… Linda, (Helen Coxon) as the spurned girlfriend was suitably upset as the woman spurned, her confrontation with Sylvia (Michelle Middleton) utterly believable. Their love interest Alex (Danny Hurley) was impressive as the suave lover, who proves himself to be a coward as the play reaches its climax. I particularly enjoyed the moment where Sylvia realises that Alex might be the murderer, this was well played, building tension. Malcolm Steele as Sylvia’s husband Martin, gave a superb performance which he maintained throughout. A seemingly apathetic, wronged husband he proved to be the hero of the hour. Gemma Burnett gave a sincere performance as Ginny as did Lynn Jones as the delightful Moppet. Goffs Oak has a small stage and it appeared quite spacious with only a half-finished set at the opening of the play but it set the scene perfectly as ambience was created with good use of lighting and sound effects as the audience were transported to a theatre at the end of the pier. The opening proved to be a typical rehearsal with cast arriving through the auditorium, which was very effective. It was good to see the backstage crew on stage at the end of the play as the play within a play is finally revealed. The first half of the play lacked pace for me but gathered momentum in the second act. Overall this was a polished performance by all involved.
- : admin
- : 05/10/2012