Take Away the Lady

Reviewed by Sue Ellis of the Eckington Leader

By way of a change from their usual production of comic farces, the City Players produced a finely-tuned, old-fashioned English drawing room murder mystery where the protagonist had a very good motive for murder. Not once, but twice.

Take Away the Lady enabled the City Players to relate to each other as if they really are members of the same angst-ridden, nutty family.

There was some excellent interplay between each of the characters whose arguments were injected with an occasional shaft of humour.

The stern, dour and autocratic sister, Lavinia (played with great emotional depth by Margaret Thompson) who runs the family home as if it's an army institution has called the rest of the family together for an ominous announcement. Sister Emma (played on the night by first time director, Cheryl Hardy), plays Patience with a grim determination and who may not be as air-headed and distracted as she at first appears, and the acid-tongued Celia, (Maggie Phelan), who has escaped the family by marrying the attentive Richard (Drew Davies), paces and smokes nervously wanting to be away from the oppressive atmosphere as soon as possible, whilst awaiting the arrival of their supercilious sister-in-law, Gilda (Pat Miatt).

What is the message Lavinia plans to pass on to the family? Brother Matthew (Philip Mantle) is coming home at last. But where has he been for 15 years? Serving a prison sentence for murdering Mother who he pushed over a balcony during a heated argument about finances. The news sets this very dysfunctional family against each other and matters are further complicated by Matthew's insistence that he is innocent.

If he didn't do it, who did?

Ellis, Susan. "The drawing room murder mystery for all". Eckington Leader, Apr 2009. Print.