Crimes Under The Sun
Feagus Woods Dunlop
New Old Friends
The Dukes, Lancaster
"In case anyone is wondering why they have all been invited here tonight"... it is to help solve this parody of an Agatha Christie murder plot.
Tropes like that fairly trip over each other in this latest murderous attempt to send up the mystery thriller style by New Old Friends theatre company. It’s the fourth in their series and is ideally suited to such a small-scale and physically dynamic troupe.
How else could three of their four-strong team turn up to play eight—or was it nine?—suspects in the final scene, other than through the mayhem of inventive stagecraft? Madcap takes on new meaning as headwear is sometimes all that’s left on stage to remind you who was who, and where they were...
Amidst such ornate choreography they even throw in ‘flashback’ scenes featuring the murder victim!
Director James Farrell’s work on West End hits like The 39 Steps shines through in these moments of horseplay. It’s easy to see why the company goes down a storm on the Edinburgh Fringe.
All the physical fun compensates for a tendency to race the dialogue, and bury the ‘plot’ beneath a complex and breathless delivery. It may work a treat in the confines of a fringe venue, but on this UK tour, and in slightly larger theatres like this, the cast need to adjust to their surrounds... and their audiences.
There’s a wily and witty script in there, but you only ever catch glimpses of its peaks.
As Belgian sleuth Artemis Arinae (the surname has to do with parrots so think how many other Belgian detectives come close), Jill Myers remains solidly in character, and accent, throughout. All around her, Jonny McClean, Heather Westwell and Feargus Woods Dunlop serve up more than a dozen overdrawn, over-exaggerated and never-knowingly understated personalities, all instantly familiar as original Christie collector’s items.
It’s murder most fun!
Reviewer: David Upton