Saturday, 31 July 2010

Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery, Murder at Checkmate Manor’ performed at Henley Fringe Festival.

Set in the drawing room of a country house, Murder at Checkmate Manor involves an eccentric family gathering for the reading of Sir Reginald Bishop's will.
However, someone else has designs on the Checkmate fortune and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. A string of grisly murders ensues, where everyone has a motive and everyone is a suspect in a classic whodunit farce.
This is play the Farndale women believe they are about to perform however from the outset it is obvious that they are total incompetents and utterly oblivious to their lack of talent. The ‘fictitious’ Farndales, a cast of four aided by their inept stage manager Gordon, are required to play all 14 roles with varying degrees of awfulness.
From the start, their production is doomed. The falling scenery, misplaced sound effects, the ham acting and missed cues define the feel of a terrible amateur play.
The cast handle their material with a brilliant knowing wit as they construct this drama within a drama - a very clever conceit that without such polished actors could go seriously awry. It must take great skill to ‘act’ so badly and keep the audience on your side. There were no doubts as to the actors’ overwhelming competency at this performance set in the conservatory of Bom Dia. From the very start, they had the audience both laughing and convinced.
For anyone with the slightest interest in theatre Conway Clarks Productions’ of Farndale mysteries are highly recommended and highlight the meticulous planning that must accompany any production if it ‘is to be alright on the night’. That’s something the ‘Farndale actors’ will never achieve and that’s why we as audiences treasure them.

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