Stage-door Theatre company offer an Agatha Christie-inspired spoof as their next production, coming up in Littlehampton.
Micki Darbyshire will direct Agatha Crusty and the Village Hall Murders by Derek Webb, with performances running from April 10-13 at 7.30pm in the Windmill Theatre.
“It is a lot of fun,” says Micki. “It is very nicely written; the dialogue is lovely; and the characters are very nicely defined. And my actors are just stunning. They are just getting the people right. They go on stage and they become these other people, and everyone else who isn’t on stage is just sitting there laughing!
“The starting point is that Agatha Crusty has come to the village of Chortleby to have a holiday with her sister-in-law Alice, and she arrives to find that somebody has died, which is very sad… and while she is there, someone rushes in and says that someone else has been found dead. It seems that somebody is quietly bumping off all the committee members of the village hall. They bring in Detective Inspector Twigg who is absolutely useless, doesn’t realise it and thinks he is a wonderful detective. He knows Agatha, he knows that she is a bit of an amateur sleuth, but he is always trying to put her down – even though she is the one that solves it.
“Agatha is somewhere between Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple. She is quite forthright and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She is trying very hard not to be rude to the detective inspector. She is a good detective. She sees things and she works things out very quietly in her mind. At the end, she starts going through all that has happened and whittles it down to get the murderer.”
Casting is always important, but particularly so for this play, Micki feels: “It is all about getting the right person for the part, which is the same whatever you do. But we have to make sure that the actors bring out the character, that they really understand what they are saying and why they are saying it because as soon as you understand why you are saying what you are saying, then learning the lines becomes so much easier. The lines just slip in.
“It has been good fun and it has been such a joy to watch the characters evolve in front of us. You need to prod a little bit here and poke a little bit there, but then once they are up and running, you could almost leave them to it. Once they get the hang of it, they are off. Really it becomes just like directing traffic! And I have got some beautiful performances which make me laugh every time.
“I love the end product when you are directing, when you see that everybody has got it right. I love directing comedy because the great thing is when the audience laugh. There is lovely feeling that the actors have got it right and that is why the audience is laughing.”
Tickets are available from the venue.