Review

Most of our reviews are re-printed with kind permission of the Knutsford Guardian

knutsford Little Theatre

Sliding panels, disappearing bodies and howls in the night are just part of the chaos to be witnessed at Knutsford Little Theatre as they present Charles Dyer’s celebrated farce, "Wanted – One Body".

 

It is a dismal afternoon at Greenacres, home of the late Mr Barraclough. It is the 1920’s, a time when parlour maids bobbed, undertakers wore top hats and solicitors arrived in pairs. Old Mr Barraclough has died leaving a fortune behind. His spooky twin stepdaughters Faith and Hope, ably played by the experienced Ali Hulford, believe they are about to receive the riches that they have waited for all their lives, but the reading of the will causes uproar. I cannot reveal too much, but almost everyone is a suspect as the plot twists and turns and the body count rises at an alarming rate. Trying to make sense of it all is Blundell, a senior partner in a firm of solicitors, calmly played by David Muncaster with help, or more often hindrance, from his assistant Mickleby.  When this play was first performed, Charles Dyer himself played the role of Mickleby and when the play transferred to the West End, Brian Rix took over the responsibility. This time it is Pete Blain who has landed this plum role and he certainly makes the most of it. Knutsford has found itself a natural comedian in this young actor, as anyone who saw him playing the role of Manola in “The Odd Couple” will have noticed. Here he is given scope to demonstrate the full range of his comic timing and eccentric mannerisms.

 

Having said that, eccentric seems to be the norm here at Greenacres. Dr Brown, absent minded, short sighted and hard of hearing is not the best advertisement for the medical profession, but Sean Duvall throws himself into the role with gusto. At the other end of the spectrum, but equally as weird, is Mr Sorrell, the undertaker, beautifully played by Paul Baston. Then there are the domestic staff. Mabel the maid helps set the tone in the very first scene, creeping and bobbing out of respect for Mr Barraclough ‘rest his soul’. Nicola Quinn obviously enjoys herself in this role, particularly when she tries to put on airs and graces.  Betty Darbyshire is convincing as Agnes the cook, who appears to be honest and down to earth, but you cannot trust anyone in this house. Stephanie Freeman turns in a confident performance as Anne Beale, secretary to the late Mr Barraclough, who suffers as the evidence implicates her but is comforted by her lover, chauffeur Ted Johnson, played with just the right amount of menace by Bob Jennings.

 

Plays with large casts can be quite a challenge to a director, but Tina Buckley has brought the best out in everyone. Add to that the fact that "Wanted – One Body" manages to be a genuine murder mystery which will have the audience guessing until the very end, but at the same time is also an hilarious farce that will have them rolling in the aisles, and an evening of top class entertainment is guaranteed. The ingenious set and the usual attention to detail, in both wardrobe and props departments, serve to maintain the excellent reputation of our local Little Theatre. The play runs from the 4th to the 7th of June and tickets, £6, are available in person from the Tourist Info Office or by calling 01565 631 237.