Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

A demise in the  festive tradition

Sticky Fingers: Helen Cooper (Amber Bluck), Paula Ellis (Sally Metcalfe) and Diana Russell-Hayes (Michelle Whitfield)  

Arrangements for Murder

Swan Theatre Amateur Company

Swan Theatre, Worcester


FOR several years now, Angela Lanyon has written and directed a murder mystery for the group in time for Christmas.

There are mince pies, wine and other seasonal comestibles at the interval, so that the studio audience always has something to digest while trying to second-guess the dénouement before all is revealed by the script.

It is the same this time around. We see the committee trying and failing to find a name for the new community centre and we watch old animosities resurfacing.

And then we're suddenly a character short – disposed of while we're getting at the festive food. We don't get a glimpse of the dirty deed, because that might give us a clue to whodunit.

So yes, it's happy hokum time, with cats looming large in the script and lots of possibilities to ponder.

Finding a name for the barn: Diana Russell-Hayes  (Michelle Whitfield) and Colonel `Monty' March (Jason Moseley) consider the possibilities

None of which has prompted an excellent company to take its responsibilities lightly. The night is full of pleasing performances.

Jess Hirst scores throughout as the young and daffy cat-breeder, Sally Metcalfe is Paula, the grumpy bully; and Jason Moseley is the colonel who is a veteran of the Falklands.

Michelle Whitfield is the extremely posh Diana, who is in all sorts of trouble for letting the cats out and who finds herself being scandalously linked with the colonel; and Andrew Dunkley is Terry, the newsagent.

Chris Read is Robin, the pleasant young man who allows himself to become cross in trying circumstances, and Amber Bluck is the suave Helen – a particularly attractive performance on a first night that brimmed with them.

It is a pleasing, informal way to begin the run-up to Christmas, even if finding a name for a community centre seems a slightly tenuous starting-point for what festers as a result. To 10-12-11.

John Slim

Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate