Thursday 27 November 2014

MURDER FOR THE ASKING by The Beeston Players
Roundhill School, Beeston

Written by Derek Benfield, this is one of the best murder mysteries I've seen since the Thriller Season by Tabs Productions at the Nottingham Theatre Royal, and the cast of The Beeston Players ramp up the tension on this stylish thriller.

The scene is set in the front room of Henry and Dora Scrubb, a young married couple who are going through a bit of a financial drought, and with only Dora working, the pressure is on Henry to get a job and resume being an equal partner in the marriage. When he is offered three thousand pound for just one night's work he, at first turns it down flat, especially when he finds out from James Franklyn what exactly is expected of him, but is this offer just too tempting for Henry to turn down?

Set in 1966, the set and the props are spot on, a job well done by props person, Jane Braithwaite and set designers Sam Williams and Steve Rowlinson. A nice touch as well with the music played at the start and interval, also being of the same period.

Mitchell Robbins plays the man with the life changing decision to make, Henry Scrubb, I've tossed it over in my mind whether Mitchell is a brilliant actor, coming over as nervous, uncomfortable, edgy and cagey as Scrubb, or whether he was nervous, uncomfortable and on edge, I'd like to think it was the former.Whatever, it worked.

Laura Webster is Dora Scrubb, the faithful "stand by your man" wife, but how far can Dora's faith stretch? I loved the naturalness of Laura's acting, but I just wasn't convinced of Henry and Dora attachment as a married couple, could be first night nerves.

Ian Greatorex was the actor I felt most comfortable with as James Franklyn and although this character was only in the play for a short while, it's quality and not quantity of the character that shone through here.

There were other stand out performances from Noreen Boyle as the "ever present" neighbour who had some lovely amusing lines to deliver. And then Alison Williams who played Detective Sergeant Thatcher, the "copper" who doggedly interrogated Henry and also provided, as in all the best murder mystery thrillers, the final twist in the tale!

There were a couple of support characters to flesh out the story in Mrs Rita Franklyn
(Abbie Maddison) and Fred Pender (Kai Robbins), who although, as with Mr Franklyn, only appear for a short while, they are so relevant to the plot, as we learn with the big reveal.

The tension and nervous energy are well contained, which shows just a small part of Barbara Barton's expertise as director of the play. A play I'm sure that she relished getting her directorial teeth into.

But it's not just the actors who made the night so enjoyable because our master of ceremonies for the evening provided some light heartedness at the start and in the interval, and the Front of House staff were helpful and friendly, showing what a great all round team The Beeston Players have.

"Murder For The Asking" is on at Roundhill School until Saturday 29 November 2014

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