Hello, Is There Any Body There?
by Ian Hornby, directed by Lestrine Wishart
24-27 March 2010
A parody whodunnit.
All is dull and peaceful at Squire Grange. Lady Amelia searches for inspiration for her latest mystery novel as Sir Malcolm sleeps off the excesses of another idle day. Family friend Freddy is persuaded to try and think of new ideas. Meanwhile, the hapless Vic Tim arrives and is promptly dispatched by an unknown assailant.
Everyone must try to discover the murderer before he or she can strike again. The first problem, however, is how to get rid of Vic's body, not least because he has to come back in Act Two as a policeman! Smalls, the butler, and Mabel, the maid, try to assist the inept police, but not in time to stop the Producer being murdered. Eventually Miss Marbles arrives to unmask the culprit … or does she?
Review in Chelsfield Village Voice
Hello is There Any Body There? is an unusual play and a departure from the Chelsfield Players’ last two dramatic productions. It was more a play about a play than a play within a play. It was obviously great fun for the performers, engaging the audience from the start by each proclaiming to be the star of the show.
The names of the cast were chosen to provide the best punning opportunities. Despite (or was it because of?) the most awful puns it raised much laughter from the audience. Notable amongst these was the “wire Squire” which was also “a telegram Ma’am” and was put “on the table Mabel” (so that’s why she was called Mabel) and WPC Eve Nunnall, the very mention of whose name prompted a concert of “evening all” from the other police officers present. We were expecting reference to be made to someone’s smalls due to the butler being named Smalls and were not disappointed.
We all knew that the murder victim just had to be Vic Tim. The reincarnated, dim-witted and appropriately named DC Fickey proudly boasted that he came from a long line of Fickeys and the name of Inspector Sides was, of course frequently misheard as “insecticides”. The inspector thought at one point that the audience had been poisoned by the interval tea but then realised they had just nodded off. We were all eagerly waiting for the next ghastly pun or comic surprise from the actors at the sudden thunder claps and dramatic chords. At one point Fickey even accused a member of the audience.
The mystery of who the murderer or even the victims were eventually received the attention of the surprisingly flirtatious Miss Marbles. Having revealed and arrested the murderer, the frustrated and bored prompt, Miss Marbles and all the rest of the cast were gunned down in a hail of bullets from the opposite wings.
There was plenty of meat for the actors, all of whom made the most of their comic opportunities but the most enjoyable role, both for actor and audience just had to be Vic Tim/DC Fickey.
A View from the Stalls