By James Hazelden & Nicholas Rasche. Directed by James Hazelden. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton. 3-7 April, 2019.

This amusing whodunnit is set in an elegant and stately English home. This is beautifully suggested with a simple but extremely effective stage design which is inviting and evocative. All the elements of the genre are present: an amateur detective, a missing will, a bloody knife and numerous suspects. However, the characters behave in highly unexpected ways and this generates a great deal of the good-natured fun imbued in the script. The text has numerous comic gems with references to contemporary life and technology. These elements are incorporated into the setting in mischievous and frenetic ways. The characters, the set and props are often not what they seem to be, and this is part of the allure of the play.  

The wry cynicism conveyed by Vera (Kathryn Tohill), the unhappy wife, sets the tone of the play and stereotypes are fully exploited. The ineptness of the naïve and clueless husband, John (Chris Saxton), triggers many laughs, alongside his possessive and hysterical mother, Sadie (Emily Rowe). The family lawyer and friend, Thomas (Mark Woodward), adds some intrigue and the bumbling detectives, Humbleby (Chris Tomkins) and Saunders (Kimberley Duband), plod their way through some complex twists and turns. Each character is played in a tongue-in-cheek manner which allows the farcical comedy to reign free. The play becomes increasingly absurd which results in a delightful and surprising unravelling of the plot. 

Patricia Di Risio

Image description: An image of a face made from torn pictures of different faces smiling to camera. Image by Mark Woodward 

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