Last Thursday, my mum and I watched an intriguing drama Sudden Death at Thornbury Manor, performed by Chandler’s Ford MDG Players, at the Methodist Church Hall.
What’s this Sudden Death all about? A murder?
The play is about a rich and unpleasant nobleman (played by Lester Parry) who is arranging a party. His family, his servants and his friends are all turning on him because of his snobbish personality, his dodgy past, and his disloyalty to his wife.
The play is structured to build a sense of mystery as to who would have the strongest motive for murdering him.
Is this a normal play?
It isn’t presented like a normal play as the actors read a script while standing in front of microphones like an old-fashioned radio play. This was the first time I saw a radio play and it was quite interesting.
There is a narrator and the sound effects are done live on stage and not backstage. The audience need to figure out who would have the strongest motive for murder.
At the end the characters interacted with the audience to help them answer questions.
The characters came down from the stage, walked around each table, and the audience asked them questions. However, they didn’t reveal much information and sometimes contradicted each other.
Did I enjoy the performance?
It was enjoyable because of the unique way it was presented. The audience interaction at the end made the experience really fun as unlike a conventional play the audience need to figure out what’s happening by themselves.
During the intervals (2 intervals), the audience enjoyed a delicious ham and cheese Ploughman’s supper, and some desserts. Our team discussed the motives of each character during our meal.
Each character has a suspect profile, which adds extra information about their relationships with one another.
The sound effects were really funny. The sound effects were conducted by two ‘dinner ladies’ (Pauline Blair and Irene Bourne). The characters acted really bored throughout the show, and whenever they did a sound effect, they would pull funny faces and silently interacted with each other.
A walking scene was accompanied by a pair of boots being placed in a tray of stones. During a serious scene where someone was slapped, one of the dinner ladies stood behind the other characters and used a ruler to make a noise in a really silly manner. The timing was spot on.
Was it really difficult to work out the murderer?
There were several characters which really had obvious motives and others which didn’t. The final part of the guessing came down to three characters, all of whom had really strong motives, making it hard to figure out exactly who did it.
In our team, we suspected the wife Caroline Maltravers (Helen Dunn), boyfriend of Alice, John Cruickshank (Mike Slatcher), and the maid Mary Wells (Barbara Bound).
What’s the most unique feature I enjoyed most?
I really like the interaction aspects at the end, and the radio element makes it unique. The sound effects are absolutely hilarious due to them being at odds with the semi-serious tone of the story.
Did our team win?
Our team won, but so did three other teams. It was a four-way tie so there was a draw for a box of chocolate. Unfortunately we didn’t get it.
Sudden Death at Thornbury Manor was directed by Mike Standing, who also wrote and directed Diamond in the Sky.
- Review: Diamond in the Sky by MDG Players
- Comedy Review: Worth a Fortune by MDG Players
- Comedy Review: Ladies Of Iniquity By MDG Players
- The Crossroad: Brilliant Performance
- The Crossroad: Musical Drama At Methodist Church