Grayshott Stagers
(Honorary Patron: Vanessa Redgrave CBE)


The Butler For their latest production, the Grayshott Stagers have tackled what is described as a "murder mystery musical" and I must admit that it was not without a little trepidation that I awaited the opening. The prospect of a spoof Agatha Christie (with music) seemed ripe with the possibilities of student revue humour and trite pastiche.

The curtain opened on the classic 'old country house' set; all wood panelling, exotic artefacts and the obligatory ancestral portrait. The cast too was not entirely unexpected, the supercilious butler, the saucy maid, the slightly sinister caretaker and a collection of weekend guests straight out of Central Casting. At this point, however, any expectations that may have been raised were well and truly blown out of the water in a, literally, explosive way and for the remainder of the evening the audience were carried along on a tide of inspired, brilliant lunacy.

Geoffrey This was no mere spoof, more a lovingly-crafted homage to the genre with music that caught the spirit of the inter-war years with accuracy and humour. The excellent four-piece (but multi-instrument) orchestra were splendidly conducted by Musical Director Anne Bradley and evoked memories of Gershwin and Coward with vigour and subtlety. Meanwhile. on stage, the body-count rose inexorably. Cut off (of course) by flood waters the cast were culled more ruthlessly than the citizens of Midsomer, each corpse being removed to Library in turn. One victim even did the decent thing and got himself to the door before expiring. At regular intervals during this mayhem the Marpleesque Miss Tweed would present her latest exegesis, only to have it destroyed by the next murder.

Seduction The cast, Amy Turner, Ellis Nicholls, John Dowsett, Susie Dean, Laura Musco, Ian Wilson-Soppitt, Brezetta Thonger, Mike Clarke, Sara Rowe and Jason Davenhill were uniformly excellent. I make no apologies for listing them all or for not selecting any for special mention. This was an ensemble piece in the best tradition of the Stagers and the enjoyment of the cast was amply reflected by that of its audience.

Director Peter Budd should be congratulated for the production which was exuberant without any trace of heavy-handedness. Choreography by Laura Musco was highlighted by the Ladies' Spear Dance (don't ask!). As ever, no production would be possible without the backroom teams, but a mention for the Lighting, Sound and Special Effects is definitely deserved.

The cast Once again the Grayshott Stagers have provided magnificent entertainment and I look forward to their November offering which is to be "Calendar Girls" by Tim Firth.


Photographs © 2012 Peter Sillick.

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