Play On!

Reviewed by Sue Ellis of the Eckington Leader

It was a murder most funny at the Corner Playhouse when the City Players presented American Rick Abbot's comedy. 'Play on', set on the stage of a community theatre showing what transpires behind the scenes as a local amateur drama group prepare for their latest production, a cast of characters playing a cast of characters...

A local drama group are offered a royalty-free play 'Murder Most Foul' from new playwright, Phyllis Montague (Pat Miatt), which the players gladly accept in order to put the theatre back into the black for the first time in six months; but they quickly regret this decision.

The play follows the actors through a rehearsal, dress rehearsal and finally the opening night of Murder Most Foul, with them trying desperately to present the play amid all kinds of interference for its author, who keeps revising the script almost until the opening night – anything that can go wrong on that occasions almost certainly do so!

Much of the humour in 'Play On' derives from the repartee between the actors, Polly (Margaret Thompson) and Saul (newcomer Richard Parkinson-Brown), whose drunken performance alongside Billy (Phillip Hadley, his brilliantly judged slap-stick skills are always a joy to watch) on opening night was superb, his blank expression as he realised he had no idea what was happening around him was visible for all to see.

The on-stage, behind the scenes trio of Gerry the long suffering director (Canan Cahit), Algie the stage manager/prompt (Philip Mantle) and Louise, sound, lights and set design (Cheryl Hardy) worked particularly well giving the audience plenty of laughs as they tried desperately to keep up their actors enthusiasm and ensure all knew their lines.

The opening night of 'Murder Most Foul', an old fashioned murder-mystery in three acts, descends into pure farce, with the Eckington Players on top form as they maintained the frantic humour throughout with another newcomer to the Players, Samantha White, showing great promise as Violet (playing Diane Lassister) and Director, Gerry, almost having a nervous breakdown in the background; with the final word, or sound, being left to the sound and lighting technician, Louise.

With ten actors on stage this production was hugely enjoyable; giving the audience a bird's eye view of what might possible go on behind the scenes of a new play and all the trials and tribulations that might involve.

'Play On' was directed with great flair by Anne Wing and continues its run at the Corner Playhouse until Saturday December 12.

Ellis, Susan. "Murder most funny at Corner Playhouse". Eckington Leader, Dec 2009. Print.