2006 Without a Hitch
by Steven Biggs & Michael Coleman
Inspector Claude Truffaut - Simon Perkins
Simon has become something of a specialist at playing eccentric, ego-maniacal European’s (notably Herr Flick in Allo Allo) and has developed the perfect blend of preening pomposity and hysterical bluster to turn any figure of supposed authority into a full-on figure of fun. This formula worked well again here for the hapless Inspector and with another week or two to master the demanding script, it could have been his best performance to date.
Doris Leach - Jo McBrearty
This was a challenging role well-played by Jo as the simple States girl turned Monte Carlo super sleuth. Her accent never faltered and when the collective Act 4 amnesia struck all in the final scenes, she kept a wonderfully cool head. Jo proved a wise choice to whom to trust some of the play’s key clue lines. Not sure about the dodgy wig though!
Archibald Leach - Lindzi Hayward
The role of mild-mannered US honeymooner, Archie, was a stroll for Lindzi, who learns lines swiftly and surely and who does ‘exasperated innocent abroad’ with great skill. But, alas, the Totternhoe faithful are a knowing audience and reserved their biggest laugh for when the misguided Truffaut claimed to see through Archie, telling him: “You overplay your part, time and time again.” The crowd roared in agreement!
Jane Anthony - Barbara Slater
With so many wacky characters and exotic accents, the production relied on a figure of calm authority to keep the whole thing pinned down. Barbara did this perfectly, as the coolly superior Proprietor of Café Le Chat. She linked well with Truffaut and hardly missed a line. Well done.
Uncle Morty - Barry Hardwick (* star performance)
Uncle Morty may not appear until half way through the production, but that was just early enough for Barry to burst in and steal the show, as the fast-talking Brooklyn shyster with the big bucks and the deafening line in evening wear. Always on top of things, if there were any stumbles in the script he simply yada-yada-yaddaed his way straight through them. Bravo!
Rebecca Du Maurier - Julie Morrey
Meet Mademoiselles Du Maurier, the waitress from hell. She pouts, she flounces, she seduces the male customers, when she’s not spilling drinks over them, and she conspires in various acts of international espionage. But at least she looks good in the uniform. In short, a perfect part for Julie, and played with all the usual gusto.
Eva Santa Maria - Jacky Eyre
Eva is the straight-laced member of the Café Le Chat waiting staff; aside from the compulsive stealing and the saucy monologues she’s as good as gold. This was a pleasingly bold performance from Jacky, which is exactly what the part required. And the slightly wandering accent will no doubt be on account of having acquired a different widow from every big-top across Europe.
Herman Waxman - John Morrey
Waxman didn’t exhibit much of the sleight-of-hand you might associate with a croupier - certainly not when lugging the body of Granger across the stage (like a cooperative sack of spuds) - but John did well enough with the German accent, which was no mean feat amongst the maelstrom of French, Spanish, and Californian. His dramatic, gagging, throat-clutching demise was also a treat.
Danielle Foussard - Karen Wilson
Karen proved she had the singing voice (if not quite the continental accent between songs) to play cabaret star, Damielle Foussard, and impressed everyone in the interval with her well-rehearsed set of songs. All That Jazz was the highlight and held the audience in rapt attention, which aint easily done when they’ve got a tray of grub in front of them!
Congratulations to Karen Williams on pulling together what was probably the most ambitious murder mystery the group has ever done. A fair choice, on balance, when considering that what the performance lacked in polish, it more than mode up for in the excellent comic set-pieces and the wonderful interplay of the central characters. In terms of the murder mystery aspect of the show, I’m still not entirely sure ‘who dunnit’ - or even what it was they were trying to do, and why - but what the hell, it was all good fun! Motive? Motive-schmotive, as Uncle Morty would say.