Review: Murdered to Death

Ben Redwood 4 November 2013

The gimmick of this production was its performance in Girton's Stanley Library, a stunning Victorian-styled library that couldn't have fitted the period of the play better (along with the immaculately detailed costumes). Unfortunately, this did mean that nothing was done to raise the stage or seats, so visibility of the stage was a bit of a problem.

The play, written by Peter Gordon, spoofs Agatha Christie in an adequately funny way. The jokes were good when they were good – but they were spaced out quite a bit.

There were some excellent moments. A lingering chortle from Colonel Charles Craddock (Aaron Crossey) was a touch of overacting at its best (something the rest of the cast should have pushed further throughout), while some of Joan's lines (Cat Walker) were delivered with a brilliant deadpan.

Indeed, the levity that this play demanded went missing for a lot of the performance; some scenes dragged and a few of the jokes were missed. Several lines were stumbled, and certain members of the cast appeared nervous during the first half.

This nervousness was unfounded, as the play was cast incredibly well. Inspector Pratt (Charlie Gatehouse) captured the corny idiocy of his incompetent detective role, while his sidekick Tomkins (Ville Syrjanen), performed an excellent deadpan, which fortunately was funny in itself.

The star of the show was undoubtedly Jack Pullman-Slater, President of the Girton Amateur Dramatics Society, for his role as B___ the Butler; filling the stereotype to bursting, he milked the role for all it was worth. His attention to mannerism likewise was commendable – I often found myself giggling at him as he lingered in the corner of the stage, bulging his eyes at stray innuendos.

Tip of the hat to Margaret Craddock (Charlie Rogers), who, after a hyperactive butterfly materialised in the library during the second half and finally settled on Crossey's shoulder, started to corpse in the most laugh-out-loud moment of the evening. What had been a reserved and understated performance from her throughout finally loosened up a bit during the climax.

The program, crammed with claims of the play's “hilarity”, certainly oversold it. Would it have been worth the journey from town? Probably not. If the whole cast overboiled their rules to the extent that Slater did, it might have been. If you're Girtonian though, a GADS performance wouldn't be an awful way to spend your Saturday night.