Review: Murder mystery misses the target

Murder in Company, Bexhill Amateur Theatrical Society.

BEXHILL Amateur Theatrical Society’s (BATS) autumn offering to local theatre lovers was a murder mystery/comedy that ironically centres around a dramatic society, assembling in a church hall to rehearse a murder mystery.

The director’s wife, Margaret Stephens, played by Clare Sayers, has been having a fling with a younger member of the cast, Alan Wilson, played by Clifton Hollister.

Margaret eventually spurns Alan’s advances leading to some angry outbursts from the younger man. Both actors gave competent performances but there was a distinct lack of chemistry and too many wooden movements for the relationship to be totally convincing.

A ‘prowler’ subsequently attacks one of the female cast members and a blackmailing caretaker meets his demise. The question was whodunnit and why.

The comedic element to ‘Murder in Company’ gave the production a slightly farcical air, true to the style of one of the writers, playwright and actor Philip King (best known for the farce See How They Run) and author Bertram John Boland (The League of Gentleman).

Directed by long-time BATS member Dorothy Webb, the cast of eight generally gave it their all, hamming it up when needed and putting on an entertaining production.

There were a few too many prompts from the wings and at times,the noisy opening and closing of doors to allow the performers to go in and out was distracting, particularly during speeches.

It was a bit of a sorry turn-out for this latest BATS production with only around 40 people in the audience on the opening night. Performing a live production is daunting but there can be nothing more demoralising for an actor who has spent weeks rehearsing a part to have to play to a handful of people.

Having regularly been on the receiving end of many a berating from local folk regarding the lack of theatrical productions in the town, where was the audience support for this play?

The Mayor, Cllr Stuart Wood was there as was Cllr Joy Hughes but where were you? BATS could perhaps have done better with this production, but come on people of Bexhill so could you.

Lynda Turner