Tag Archives: agatha christie

RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE – THEATRE REVIEW: from frightfully posh to terribly common in the swish of a mop – a glorious send up of the island whodunnit in Crimes Under The Sun with New Old Friends

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Crimes Under The Sun: Heather Westwell and Feargus Woods Dunlop in the comic drama

Crimes Under The Sun. The Ustinov, Bath

A dramatic start as the show is delayed after a member of the audience is taken ill – or were they bumped off? Looking around at some of those packed into the intimate seating of the Ustinov Theatre in Bath it’s hard not to conclude that certain individuals look like potential murderers. Take that tall chap with the beard and that woman wearing shades. And then there is the little old lady who nips up the stairs to the theatre like a 20-something. Surely she’s in disguise. It’s all a bit Agatha Christie.

And the latest New Old Friends theatre production of Crimes Under The Sun borrows and lovingly sends up much of Christie’s style borrowed from her novel Then There Were None or A Caribbean Mystery in a riotous farce and a spoof of the island whodunit. With only four actors playing 14 roles the drama has to rely on the audience being in on the joke as the costume changes (or non-changes) become increasingly crazy. With numerous running gags and humorous physical details Crimes Under the Sun directed by James Farrell is a pacey, pun-filled frolic of a show that has the audience chuckling throughout its 90 or so minutes of plot twists and turns.

Jonny McClean as Alcazar is inspected by Jill Myers as Artemis and Feargus Woods Dunlop in the play. Pamela Raith Photography

Jonny McClean as Alcazar is inspected by Jill Myers as Artemis and Feargus Woods Dunlop in the play. Pamela Raith Photography

Feargus Woods Dunlop is the main creative force behind the company and the unfeasibly tall actor who plays at least three characters. He’s at his best as the stiff upper lip Major Peavey and the nerdy Nelson Cholmondeley who believes foreigners are: er… well, foreign.

The play is anchored by the narrator and self-confessed amateur sleuth Artemis Arinae played by Jill Myers who recounts the story and introduces the characters and is occasionally caught up in the events. She holds the chaos together as she retells the story of that crime filled weekend on an island when a group of eccentrics are marooned by a storm. And in a Poirot-esque accent she completes the drama as she whittles down the long list of suspects at the conclusion. The comic drama doesn’t start with a bang and takes a few minutes to warm up but hits top form in a wonderful song and dance routine composed by Kathryn Levell about the joys of being beside the seaside. A couple more musical interjections wouldn’t have taken anything away from this frightfully British production. British in the best tea and cucumber sandwiches type of tradition.

Crimes Under The Sun featured a song and dance routine about the joys of the seaside

Crimes Under The Sun featured a song and dance routine about the joys of the seaside

The strength of the show lies in the cast who switch roles at an increasingly frenetic pace rattling out the story from Woods Dunlop’s script. An elastic faced Jonny McClean is the hilarious weird boy Lucien as well as the enjoyable drunk ‘I’m like an animal’ Redwood. And he doubles up as the manic waiter Alcazar and sexist Caledonian Inspector Aquafresh.

Crimes Under the Sun: the crime spoof drama is on a nationwide tour

Crimes Under the Sun: the crime spoof drama is on a nationwide tour

One of the many stand-out moments was Heather Westwell playing three policemen at the same time in a drama that had elements of stand-up and improvisation which all added to the mix. Westwell’s scene stealing cleaning lady was a scream while her ability to slip into her various personas was a lesson in character acting as she went from terribly posh to frightfully common in the swish of a mop.

With so much comic content, superb timing and clear diction from a cast who seem to be enjoying the show as much as the audience it really is a crime not to see Crimes Under The Sun.

Harry Mottram

The play runs at the Ustinov in Bath until February 24th before a nationwide tour ending in May.

For more details visit https://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/your-visit/ustinov/ and for the nationwide tour see www.newoldfriends.co.uk and for more reviews visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

You can also follow New Old Friends on Twitter on @newoldfriends and Harry Mottram at @harrythespiv and on Facebook, YouTube and Linked In.

RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE THEATRE – PREVIEW: Agatha Christie spoof with New Old Friends at Bath’s Ustinov Theatre

 

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A secluded island hotel just off the English coast becomes a crime scene, as a scandal-inducing femme-fatale is felled. All the guests on the island are suspects, but are they alone and is this the first crime this idyllic island has witnessed?

The Bath based theatre company New Old Friends returns with this comedy thriller directed by James Farrell (The 39 Steps, West End) with four actors playing multiple outrageous characters, and a plot that romps along in the company’s trademark inventive style.

Inspired by Agatha Christie, Hitchcock and film noir, the drama is a hilarious but murderous trip to a classic English Riviera retreat.

The Ustinov in Bath is staging the production which runs for the 13th to the 24th February before going on tour around the country until the end of May. For a full list of dates and venues visit http://www.newoldfriends.co.uk/crimes-under-the-sun

For details of tickets in Bath visit  www.theatreroyal.org.uk or call 01225 448844.

RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE DIARY: from Charlie Chaplin to a French silent movie and from Punch to love poetry – it’s all happening in January

The Suitor is on in Bristol at the Slapstick Festival

The Suitor is on in Bristol at the Slapstick Festival

January 2017

Christmas is over, the mornings are dark and the evenings darker and all seems gloomy as you realise how much heavier you were than just a few days ago. How you could murder all those Christmassy events and start again in November.
Speaking of murdering Christmas there’s a play during the rounds by New Old Friends. Crimes Against Christmas is a comic Agatha Christie type story where the guests at the county house keep getting bumped off to the theme of the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s on in Bath at the Theatre Royal from January 3-7.
Which brings us to death. Just months before his death in 1669 Rembrandt painted a self-portrait sporting a rather natty beret. He was 63 and had already painted a number of self-portraits charting the 17th century aging process – got covered in muck and became increasingly dark with all the grime and soot. In the late 1960s it was given a clean revealing Rembrant’s signature and instead of being rather dim in tone was really quite colourful. It can be seen at Bristol’s city art gallery.
Meanwhile the Cartoon Museum in London goes all Punch with an exhibition of some the best cartoons from the magazine’s history. Sometimes cruel, sometimes ultra conservative and sometimes offensive they were often timeless and extremely funny. One thing is always the case with these 19th century drawings: the draughtsmanship is excellent. And of course they open a window into some aspects of Victorian life. Pictures from Punch: A 175th Anniversary Exhibition – runs to January 22.
Also in London there’s an exhibition of Picasso’s portraits at the National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square. Rapscallion’s favourite art gallery is always worth a visit as it is free and contains such an eclectic collection of portraits both painted and photographed through the centuries.
Coming to the Roxy Cinema in Axbridge in January is the film A Bigger Splash. Billed as a darkly comic drama it’s set in Italy where a couple staying in Tuscany having a visit from a long lost friend. You know what’s coming – the past arrives to haunt the present with a certain amount of emotional fall-out.
It’s directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by Alain Page and David Kajganich, based on the film La Piscine and features Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson.
Speaking of relationships the Bristol Old Vic’s poetry nights has something of a battle over the vexed emotion ahead of St Valentine’s Day. Held once a month on a Sunday evening (although January gets missed out) Blahblahblah on February 13 features Love vs Cynicism. Two teams of wordsmiths go head to head to argue each side of the case. Expect soaring ballads, tenderness, pain, bitterness and hilarity from some of the best poets around.
One of Bristol’s great festivals arrives in time to cheer everyone up from the winter blues. Slapstick 2017 returns with film, performances and talks.
On Wednesday, January 20, there is Rediscovered and Restored featuring the talents of one of Europe’s finest silent film champions Serge Bromberg as he presents his latest collection of newly discovered and restored silent comedy shorts to open the Slapstick Festival.
Another interesting evening is on the following day when there is a screening of Bed and Sofa, a 1927 Russian film which somehow escaped the dead hand of the Stalinist censor with its focus on human relationships and disregard of state and party.
During the week there’s a talk by Lucy Porter about the fascinating life of Anita Loos – one of early Hollywood’s most talented and prolific screenwriters and there’s a screening of Charlie Chaplin in The Kid.
The shows mainly take place in the Colston Hall and include appearances by Bill Oddie, Ian Lavender and Robin Ince.
And another delight is the screening of the The Suitor or rather Le Soupirant in the original French title. It is a 1962 French comedy film directed by and starring Pierre Étaix and is almost silent throughout.
Stylish and beautifully shot it was Pierre Etaix’s tribute to Buster Keaton in which a young man is pressed into finding a girl friend by his parents in an amusingly droll story of  his bungling attempts at love. It’s all a bit Rapscallion in the way real life seems to turn into farce.
There’s more Rapscallion Magazine features, news and reviews at www.harrymottram.co.uk