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Ding Dong Murder Me On High!

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 21st Feb 2017 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

Back in the day, The Questors Theatre in Ealing was synonymous with The Art of Course Acting, a sort of precursor to The Play that Went Wrong, which is so popular today.

Questors is an amateur theatre group and member Michael Green drew upon his experiences to write a book on the subject before taking The Course Acting Show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and then into London’s West End.

There are aspects of this talking Scarlet (why do they have to italicise, underline and not cap up?) production which brings me in mind of course acting. Obviously Ding Dong… is a spoof, but it’s not done well enough to be admired.

David Callister, as the aptly named Sgt Pratt, is the only one to get my vote with his Malapropisms and double entrendres. It must be so difficult to have to keep dropping the wrong words into the dialogue, and he does it so well, even when he corpsed during Windsor’s first night and then said, ‘I don’t know what I am talking about any more’. It was the highlight of the evening.

The opening night audience seemed to enjoy it well enough, and that’s the main thing, but I found it all too silly and the characters too transparently over the top.

The action takes place in the home of Sir Walton Gates, where his family are gathering together for Christmas (I was just beginning to put Christmas behind me!). Enter Sgt Pratt and his sidekick WPC Potter, collecting for the police benevolent fund, and chaos ensues. In the mix there are guns going off, sub plots and imposters, but I was inclined to agree with another theatregoer who queried, ‘Is this supposed to be for adults?’

Only Anna Brecon as Lady Gates appears believable (well, mostly), with a cool sophistication (well, mostly) which brought me in mind of Samantha Bond. I’ve always liked Jeffrey Holland, and his portrayal of the creaky old Lord is passable. Oliver Mellor (Dr Matt in Corrie) does well to irritate us as the cocky James Washington, but the others are just too silly. Natasha Gray as Sir Walton’s PA Morag McKay brought me in mind of Dr Finlay’s Janet (for those old enough to remember) with her high pitched pseudo-Scottishness, but Carly Day ladles on so much affectation as Sir Walton’s excitable daughter Emma that, half the time, she is inaudible. And there were knowing chuckles when someone refers to Archie Gates’ (played by Neighbour’s Mark Little) ‘ridiculous Australian accent’.

This is the world premiere of this production, and apparently there are many other misadventures involving Sgt Pratt. Good luck to him, and his creator Peter Gordon. With this company they need it.

Ding Dong Murder Me on High! is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Feb 25.

Box Office: 01753 853888.

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

It then continues touring:

Mar 13-15: Grand Theatre Swansea

 

Mar 17-18: Garrick Theatre, Lichfield

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