Report by: Peter Parlour on Saturday 05 August 2017 Venue: Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond Director: Gary Winn
The laughter began before the play had begun, and continued practically with every line. This was a superb production. With the five members of the cast all excellently played, indeed all were outstanding (how they remembered their lines I wouldn't know) all the credit for that must go to Gary Winn.
The cast had several parts to play, in varying different costumes. When anyone got murdered, problems inevitably reared its head as they tried to get them off stage, resulting in often the victim having to get up and walk of the stage - much to the merriment of the audience.
The characters were: Mrs Reece, played by Suzy Brown, she was playing Clarissa Rook, Lady Bishop's sister/ Regine, the French Maid / Patricia Bishop, Lady Bishop's niece / Letitia Bishop,her sister / Mr Goodbody, a solicitor. Suzy was hardly off the stage, excellent.
Thelma played by Julie Winn playing Daphne Bishop, Lady Bishop's daughter / Rose Bishop, her spinster Aunt. Julie had to go from a glamorous tennis player to an aged Aunt , excellently played.
Felicity excellently played by Alex Caffery, playing Pawn, a butler / Colonel King, Lady Bishop's brother-in-law. There were times when she had to exit the stage re-entering as the Colonel, that left those on the set to do a little ad libbing, very funny indeed.
Audrey played by Barbara Hughes, playing the Lady Doreen Bishop, a widow / Violet Bishop,her spinster Aunt / Mrs King ,the Colonel's wife / Joan Bishop, Lady Bishop's cousin.
Playing Inspector O'Reilly was Jordan Leighton. He gave a very powerful performance indeed, showing his dancing skills with Daphne, and trying to sort out (often unsuccessfully) the various murders. We had tennis balls all over the stage, a collapsing small table and before the play even started, a stage panel fall down thus exposing the Inspector pulling up his trousers, and the resulting situation of the panel replaced upside down, which turned out to be the fireplace.
Even the programme mirrored the mayhem on stage as it captured the story of the FAHETGDS, very cleverly presented by Michael Walker.
The society should be justifiably very proud of themselves in producing a very difficult play to present and to give such an outstanding evening’s entertainment. Very well done indeed Richmond.
Every drama group knows the horrors of what can go wrong on opening night, and the ladies of the F.A.H.E.T.G. Dramatic Society are no different, with the possible exception that almost everything that could happen does! Scenery collapses, cues are missed, lines forgotten, and sound effects mistimed, as the ladies entertain with the cunning whodunit, "Murder At Checkmate Manor."
And just in case the audience should get bored there's a Film Show and Murder Mystery Quiz, complete with a Prize! The crunch comes in the denouement when the "murderer", about to be revealed, has to rush home to bandage up an injured daughter. But Mrs Reece, doyenne of the group, rises above the slings and arrows of outrageous dramatics to save the situation and provide the final inventive twist.
Report by: Christina McIntyre on Saturday 05 August 2017 Venue: Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond Director: Gary Winn
Once again transforming into The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society, Richmond Amateur Dramatic Society pulled off a splendidly chaotic evening of botched lines, collapsing scenery, badly improvised props and mistimed sound effects.
The accompanying F.A.H.E.T.G.D.S programme, typewritten but manually corrected, was packed with hilariously superfluous detail for extra authenticity.
Jordan Leighton was superbly inept as late substitution Gordon Pugh. Taking the role of Inspector O’Reilly, he had accidentally displayed himself with his trousers round his ankles within the opening minutes.
Audrey, played by Barbara Hughes, brought to life several Bishop family females, but could not quite control herself whenever the slightest hint of innuendo could be inferred. The double act of Thelma and Audrey as spinster aunts Rose and Violet provided good old fashioned comedy, which was rivalled only by the sight of the newly murdered dead bodies having to assist in their own removal from the stage.
The incongruity of a murder mystery including a romantic duet from a musical was funny in itself, but Thelma (Julie Winn) as Daphne Bishop and the aforementioned Inspector excelled themselves. Miming I Could be Happy with You, they skilfully managed to swap singing parts while dancing awkwardly around the stage.
Alex Caffery perfectly played the deadpan Felicity whose main part was as Pawn the butler, but the star of the evening was Suzy Brown. She took the role of Mrs Reece – the "motivating force" behind F.A.H.E.T.G.D.S. – who adapted the play, directed it, took no fewer than four parts herself and still managed to stage a Fashion Show and Quiz during the interval.
Gary Winn, who describes the experience of directing as akin to Les Dawson playing the piano badly, did an excellent job of putting together a truly dire F.A.H.E.T.G.D.S production, which the RADS audience loved. Great fun.