Clues make way for laughs

Fatal attraction: Insp Pratt (David Callister) with Blodwyn Morgan (Katy Manning), who knows the future, Enzo Garibaldi (Leslie Gratham), who knows the past and Nancy Allwright (Michelle Hardwick) who isn't who she seems . . .  all very confusing for prize prat Pratt

Death by Fatal Murder

Lichfield Garrick

****

MY immediate reflections on Ian Dickens' production of Death by Fatal Murder were a jolly entertaining spoof murder mystery with plenty of laughs, a great cast who delivered a polished performance and the audience really liked the show. 

The tale, one of the Peter Gordon's Inspector Pratt trilogy, takes place during during WWII.  A local constable has gone missing and is presumed dead. 

Enter the bumbling, mumbling, incompetent and accident prone Inspector Pratt (by name and by nature) admirable over-egged by David Callister somewhat in the style of Leonard Rossiter's Rigsby; much to the relief of amateur sleuth Miss Maple (Ingrid Evand), who for reasons of her own would prefer that Pratt doesn't find out who the killer is and why he killed.

Pratt is drafted in to solve the case which he does with the help of the bright and ambitious Constable Thompkins (Christopher Elderwood).

STORY UNFOLDS

Act One opens with the shortest of scenes and the story unfolds in the guests' sitting room in the East wing of the country manor, Bagshot House but there aren't many clues along the way and when all is finally revealed in Act Two the story is so complicated and convoluted I wasn't sure that I could keep awake long enough to find out.

 However, there was excellent comedy throughout and many slapstick moments.  There was much hilarity with both cast and audience in Act Two when things didn't go according to plan with the nettle tea and Pratt had an altercation with the scenery.

The lady cast members did shine. The star of the show for me was Katy Manning as Blodwyn Morgan the cookie clairvoyant.  Her impressive possessions by Dougal McDougal, Colonel Craddock,  et al is fascinatingly funny particularly when she talks in tongues. 

Nicola Weeks gave and energetic performance as Ginny Farquar, the endearingly, horsey land ‘gel' helping with the ‘sprites, Brussels sprites'.  Michelle Hardwick is the prettily secretive ‘wife' to one of Churchill's ‘few', the no-longer-missing-in-action, Squadron Leader ‘Stiffy' Allwight (Richard Gibson)

We see disappointingly little of Grantham as Italian lodger Enzo Garibaldi. Big billing, very small part and there isn't much he could do with the few lines he had but he was an impressive corpse. To 08-10-11

Lynda Ford 

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