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Sidmouth Manor Pavilion Theatre - An Inspector Calls (with James Pellow)

Folks who know me very well often say, kindly I think, that I should get out more. I’m a grumpy old sod at the best of times and in the ...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Worm's Eye View (The Return of Inspector Garbutt)

Theatre societies will go to enormous and elaborate lengths to get a review on this blog. That is what I tell myself anyway. After all, there must be some logical reason as to why I found myself playing a bearded and concupiscent Sea Captain in St Andrews’ Murder Mystery. Not for my singing skills. Wisely this lot never let me get anywhere near the stage. And acting, such as it was, comprised solely of improvised lechery with the passenger audience. Click a few photos with the Cruise Captain and then sit back and enjoy solving his murder. Stabbed in the back in his cabin before the show starts. They may weep, unlikely, at my theatrical demise but I shall be home supping the whiskies his character clearly enjoys. So that was St Andrews’ ‘The Return of Inspector Garbutt’, a homebred show by Terry Mills, in which the passenger audience were invited to solve the mystery of who from the motley crew put the offstage knife into the unseen and deserving back.
Given that I spent more time with the audience than with the production I know more about the former than the latter. Besides you can’t review a show you were a part of, even though you weren’t actually in it. So I ain’t going to try. But I can stick my oar into that audience, about time they got a crit. I mean, they turn up everywhere and never get a mention. They must be thoroughly fed up. Dress up, pay a fortune for parking, petrol, and tickets, buy drinks and a programme and go home wishing, sometimes, that  they had put it all towards the looming gas bill or a fancied horse at Cheltenham. And not a squeak. Anywhere. Not a line in a paper or a scrawl on a blog. So this is their turn. Agents, get out your cheque books. Last week this unwary audience, cast as seafarers, performed
Some, mainly the actor types, played up beautifully and others, even if bemused, entered into the passenger spirit. A Mr and Mrs Smith, whoever they were, accepted snide remarks with aplomb and a Mrs Foster gleefully regaled the story of her falling under a Captain’s table. Dodgy chair legs or dodgy gin and tonics? Sadly we shall never know. Not all were so easy. One anonymous lady declined an invitation for a Friday dinner engagement with the said Captain. She had come to see the show on Thursday and then she was going home. No theatrical nonsense and no passenger playing for her. Even if provided a personal lifeboat and half the bleeding admiralty. Some folks are hard work. The highlight was Miss Janet Bray’s immersion into her unexpected role as sexual ingĂ©nue and the lowlight the chatting up of a young lady who turned out to be fifteen. I swear your honour, she looked at least twenty. A mixed lot, an audience. Much easier reviewing a show.
And in the absence of anything better the audiences provide it. I glimpsed the dress rehearsal and a bit of the Saturday night but never got the full flavour of the evening. Only audiences can do that. I saw bits that impressed and others that didn’t but my view was distorted. I was picking at a bag of theatrical sweets that this audience, reviewed and phone numbers ready, had been noshing at. They seemed to enjoy it. Nonsense fun, lots of lovely food, some good singing and acting, and a nice murder game at the end. A pleasant way to spend an evening out. I am glad about that. I am glad the audience enjoyed St Andrews Murder Mystery. I am particularly glad because I enjoyed them in their unexpected roles. On this cruise, from this worm’s eye view, the tables were literally turned.
St Andrews Players
'The Retrurn of Inspector Garbutt'
Stopsley High School, Luton.
November 7th - 10th 2012

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