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Review of Sudden Death at Thornbury Manor written by Chris Lewis & Carol Hutton. Performed by Pilton Players

sudden death at Thornbury manor

I’ve been asked to write a review of the play, which I watched on Thursday. So here it is:
What a wonderful evening out in Pilton! Walking into the hall it was a pleasant surprise to find we sat at beautifully laid tables rather than the usual rows of seats. It is true to say that nothing about this performance was particularly usual! …..

It was as though we were watching a radio play being recorded as the cast came and went at the back of the stage as they pleased, each coming forward to ‘record’ their parts at the microphones when required. This radio format allowed creativity in the casting (and solved a common difficulty in many amateur dramatic groups) and a mature lady was able to play the part of a teenage maid. BBC Newsreader and Master of Ceremonies, Barnaby Higson introduced each act and informed us where the scene was supposedly taking place. Karl Pearce and Steve Tofts provided amusing sound effects on stage, including treading in gravel in a cat litter tray to emulate walking along a garden path. This and occasional silent interaction between the cast out of character added a welcome extra bit of action.

So, to the radio play itself. Richard Maltravers played by John Boucher was the villain of the piece, being nasty to just about everybody. Other members of his family were Sheila Steward as his long-suffering wife and Wendy Lynn and Maureen Tofts as the children, along with an angry boyfriend, Sam Landrigan. Of course, there has to be servants under suspicion, and these were played by John Howe, Sandra Howe and Pauline Hobbs. And a murdery mystery wouldn’t be complete without a creepy doctor, Joe King. Red Herrings and motives were abound and really got our little grey cells working hard when the murder took place.
All the cast did excellently at acting predominantly with only dialogue and were cleverly directed by Alison Ward and John Howe. Supported by Norman Hodghton on lighting, friends of Pilton Players backstage and front of house, and Christine King in charge of the delicious ploughman’s supper we were served at the interval. During pudding near the end, the audience had chance to discuss our theories and then questioned the cast in their characters to try and figure out the culprit. Despite being an Agatha Christie fan, I was hopelessly wrong in my suspicions, but it was thoroughly good fun investigating!

Entertainment, Theatre,
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