Therry Dramatic Society. Arts Theatre. 2 Nov 2017
It’s the only murder mystery at which one is told to go out and tell the world whodunnit,
That’s because playwright Alan Ayckbourn wrote three optional endings and it is decided for each performance by being picked from a hat.
On opening night, Jocelyn did it. Well, she said she did. But It Could Be Any One of Us and there is plenty of room for doubt.
On this Therry production’s opening night, the plot took quite a while to evolve. The pace was more like treacle than honey. The cast worked ferociously hard but somehow were missing some cylinders.
All the right ingredients are there. The Kerrin White set of the grand farmhouse living room is wonderfully expansive, detailed and sumptuous. It features the grand piano on which Mortimer Chalke regales the family with his latest composition. A very tousle-haired Roman Turkiewicz plays this dire composer and both he and the music are very funny.
Mortimer is head of a dysfunctional and dependent family: sister Jocelyn a failed crime writer, brother Brinton, a failed artist with arrested development, and niece Amy whose main talent is eating. They live a quarrelsome life together with Jocelyn’s partner, a would-be private detective called Norris.
The cat is set among the pigeons when Mortimer announces that he is changing his Will to leave the family estate to a girl who came to him for piano lessons 20 years ago, and she is coming to spend the weekend. Who should be the victim and who the killer, are then thrown about culminating in one riotous scary and chaotic thunderstorm scene in which the murder eventually takes place.
Therry pulls this off nicely. It is fast and funny. It is the high spot of the show, much enabled by the good work of the sound and lighting techs.
The play is performed in a perplexing assortment of English accents, some of them so laboured they slow the action. Gigi Jeffers, clearly an accomplished actress, delivers the character of Jocelyn with most emphatic enunciation. She makes a bit of a send-up of measured delivery and brings fond memories of the style of the late Hayette Erickson.
Ben Todd has a slightly posher accent as he bumbles around as the family’s hapless simpleton. Bonnie McAllister, as the overweight and depressed quasi-punk daughter, Amy Polegarte, has more of an Essex thing happening; not that she has many lines. Hers is a performance of sullen stomping and eye rolling and she is a comic pleasure to watch. Brad Martin as the over-enthusiastic would-be sleuth and Miriam Keane as the former student do their own regional thing, both with panache. One leaves the theatre with Keane’s brave rendition of the sausage song ringing through one’s mind. If ever anyone did credit to a silly song, it is she.
One can usually be assured of aching ribs after an Alan Ayckbourn play. There are some good laughs in It Could Be Any One of Us but this Kerrin White production does not throw the audience into the aisles. Doubtless some run-in time will bring a more naturalistic feel to the performances.
When: 2 to 11 Nov
Where: Arts Theatre
Bookings: trybooking.com or 8358 3018