‘Murder in Company’ is a comedy / ‘Who-Done-It’ written in 1973 by Philip King and John Boland. This drama is the latest presentation from KADS – Kalamunda Dramatic Society WA. The show can be seen on Wednesdays, Friday and Saturdays at their theatre in Barber Street, Town Square Centre, Kalamunda, with curtain up at 8.00. The run is until Saturday 19th March.
The scene (set design by Christine Ellis) is an empty stage in the St Ignatius Church Hall. Later a stage set with sitting room furnishings.
It is the mid-1970s, and so the costumes are bold patterns, lace and of course the flared trousers (costumes Gail Michalzik and Melville Theatre). The director employed the auditorium aisle in several scenes. The lighting – very good, atmospheric opening scene – was designed by Stephen Marr, and operated by Tiernan Stephens, Jason Millman and Joy Miles. Audio design was by Lindsay Goodwin and Callon Leam. Stage manager Melissa Skeffington.
It is a rehearsal night for the local, suburban Amateur Dramatic Society. 20-year old Alan (Callon Leam) has arrived early to meet his new love, Margaret (Jay Shaw). She a woman twice his age and is married to the play’s unbearable director, Phillip (Paul Williams). As Margaret and Alan are cuddling, in the shadows lurks the new janitor, Ted (Ian Fraser) a pedantic, obstreperous man.
The other cast members arrive, and the rehearsal begins. One of the older members, Phoebe (Julie Holmshaw) and nervous newcomer, Pat (Sarah Langridge) start reading through their parts. The third member of the scene Doris (Dee Rowlands) has not turned up, and is already an hour late, so the stage manager, Ronnie (Gino Cataldo) is given the task of filling in for Doris.
After half an hour Doris staggers onto the stage in a terrible state, a prowler has molested her. Minutes later, someone is found dead in the kitchen.
What evil has hit this little hamlet?
The story got off to a slow start, with a poorly written First Act, which is surprising considering the quality of the fast moving and intriguing Second Act. The authors have endeavoured to work into the First Act a bit of slapstick comedy, which – although well performed – just did not work and cheapened the story.
There were out of date references such as to ‘Chief Inspector Barlow’, a character from the exceptionally popular BBC’s 1960s series, ‘Softly, Softly’. However, the actors battled on and the end of the performance was filled with suspense and some fine performances.
The cast performed well, and rose to the occasion – when the script did. The play has a good story thread, and is certainly worth seeing. Can you guess who the killer is?