Review: Death by Fatal Murder, Theatre Royal, by Alan Geary Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Given the tautological overload in the title, people who are concentrating will somehow sense that Death by Fatal Murder is going to be a spoof. They'll sense right: this is an outrageous parody of your routine Agatha Christie whodunit. And it's very funny.
It was a hit at last summer's Thriller Season and unsurprisingly is back by popular demand. This time it's tighter and even more enjoyable than it was first time round. Granted, Inspector Pratt's tendency to lurch from one desperate malapropism to another is overdone, and the plot is shaggy beyond belief, but it's hugely enjoyable.
There's one cast change: instead of Patric Kearns as Constable Thomkins, the intellectual powerhouse of the play, we get the splendid Al Naed, who's completely at home in the part.
Karen Henson is back as the tweedy eccentric Miss Maple, and Jo Castleton is again strangely fetching as Ginny Farquhar, the county type with a laugh like a horse and hacking jacket and jodhpurs to match. Jeremy Lloyd Thomas, playing female medium Blodwyn Morgan, gets to do a Welsh valleys accent like his real-life one but more OTT.
Sarah Wynne Kordas has perhaps the hardest acting job. Her Nancy Allwright is less of a caricature than the other characters; and as she sits observing the goings on you can read her mind. She's fearful of disclosure, she's anxious lest her affair with one of the others should come to light, and, even more than the others, she's transfixed by the Inspector's uselessness.
Nick Briggs is, of course, Pratt. It's not just his malapropisms: he could win prizes for his spoonerisms too. Briggs brilliantly observes the insecurity, the cowardly pretentiousness and the vanity of his man; he acts with his whole body, from eyebrows to toes.
The play's worth seeing just for Briggs.
Death by Fatal Murder is at the Theatre Royal till Saturday, 16th June