An Absolute Farce of a Murder Mystery

1
Seen at the Drayton Arms Theatre
By Daryl - 1st Mar 2023

Written by Peter Rae and directed by Helen Bang, the production at The Drayton Arms Theatre in South Kensington is a pastiche of a Christie-esque murder mystery set in the fictitious surroundings of Garbadale Manor. We’re presented with all the requisite stock characters from above and below stairs, and the usual iterations of unrequited love.

The character portrayals are deliberately cliché, which settles the audience for a familiar, farcical romp. There are undoubtedly some funny lines but it’s generally over-written, and the direction is sluggish, so all sense of pace that is required for farce is lost. The face-on staging also hampers and there are some inexplicable ‘respite’ moments that only serve to slow things down further.

Acting is deliberately over the top, which is fine in small doses and works in a farce setting but by being on stage herself, I believe the director has missed the opportunity to imbue the performances with sufficient light and shade. And it’s clear that neither the writer nor the director knew when or how to end the play.

The cast is clearly talented – a particular mention for Holly Ashman as “The Housegirl” – but ultimately they’re let down by the script.

Daryl Bennett


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