‘Where There’s a Will’ is a comedy whodunnit by English playwright, Alan Tibbles. It has a slightly slow, verbose start but soon settles down to a very good, well-paced mystery.
A novel idea. At the interval, the audience is invited to write their suspect’s name on a slip of paper and the first correct answer wins a box of chocolates.
This two-and-a-quarter-hour production can be seen in the Function Hall, Stirling Leisure Centre, Belvedere Road, Hamersley – just off Erindale Road. The curtain goes up at 8.00 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings until 17th September with matinées on Sunday 11th and 18th September at 2.30 pm. You can be sure of a warm welcome.
The auditorium is warm and pleasant. The seating is standard school-style plastic chairs but a very comfortable cushion is also supplied. Free tea and coffee are always welcome. Please wash the crockery quietly and preferably not in the first 5 minutes of Act Two.
The Scene: 1958 in an English country house. The home of Violet Nesbitt.
The set: The quality of the company’s sets has improved in the years gone by and is well-constructed and finished. The room is painted in cream, with a door to the right and two curtained archways: one leading to upstairs bedrooms, the other to the front door. On the left apron is a china and drinks cabinet. The rear wall has a telephone table and a small white netted window overlooking the front driveway.
Properties: Linda Thompson and the cast have made the room look real and lived in.
Sound design: Christine Evans has found a genuine telephone ring of the day. The upstairs accident sounded realistic.
Technical operator: Poor lady, I suspect that she may have been given the job at the last minute. With a programmed computer prompt and a board of faders to operate, takes skill. Before the first actor spoke a word, we got a 5-second burst of strange unrelated music. When the phone rang the sound was full on, the audience jumped with shock and laughed at the mistake – which was then repeated when the phone rang a few minutes later. Another burst of music and the operator dived for the control, and accidentally dimmed all the stage lights. This happens, but everyone in the Company should help each other.
Prompt: Is a prompt still necessary after the final rehearsal? Debates go on as to whether a prompt makes the actors less inclined to learn their lines, and so gives them no conscience about forgetting their lines. This prompt was a little too quick to prompt, even for an appropriate pregnant pause. It looks almost natural if another actor finishes a sentence or gives a subtle prompt by asking a question to the actor who is stuck.
Lighting: In a couple of years, the lighting rig has been transformed from the two wobbly stands on the auditorium floor, situated on each side of the stage holding two floods. Now there are three proper ceiling lamp rigs, covering the stage with even lighting – beautiful. May I suggest that you get a long vacuum cleaner brush as the lamps are thick with dust and could be a fire risk?
The lighting design and positioning were very well set up but the rear line of 10 lamps (almost against the rear wall) points directly at the audience. The barn doors were quite well adjusted however a metre-deep black curtain (a teaser or border) hanging across the stage between the two lighting rigs would make all difference.
Please do not take these suggestions as a demolition job but as genuine caring suggestions. I want all community theatres to be loved and appreciated. Endeavour is so close to being one of Perth’s admired companies.
When the wife of extremely wealthy businessman Mr. Nesbitt died, much to his adult children’s annoyance their father quickly remarried to a miserable, stern woman, Violet (Denise Mignon). She does not like them; they do not like her! Violet, with the help of her solicitor, Carter Smythe (Clyde Goodenough) has shared out the children’s inheritances.
Violet requests that the family gather at the family home for the reading of the Will and the sharing of the wealth.
First to arrive at the family home is Roland Nesbitt (Darren Johnson), an easy-going chap with a smart but demanding, self-centred wife, Clare (Rosanna Baccala). The gossipy housecleaner, Betty Parr (Christine Evans) lets them into the lounge and explains which bedroom upstairs is theirs.
Soon the young attractive sister, Gwen (Amy McDonnell) who lives beyond her means arrives. Then her conman brother, Daniel (James Fraser) enters with his shy wife Janice (Ondola Corica).
Not surprisingly, old hostilities and jealousies emerge and confidences are exposed. When there is a death, the police are called in. Detective Inspector Pelley (Linda Thompson) is no local gullible fool; with P.C. Walters (Sonja Stemler) can they sort out the lies from the facts?
Linda Thompson’s costumes were carefully chosen, with the range from a police officer’s uniform to that of the dotty old maid. Many of the cast wore very smart outfits of their own.
Director Barry LeFort has given two new actors their big chance, Darren and James did not let him down. They were excellent. One or two actors spoke quietly with poor projection, even when looking towards the rear of the stage but this could have been first-night nerves. The pace was very good and with a large cast on stage most of the time, wisely the director kept the characters moving around.
As you may gather, I really enjoyed this play, an exceptionally good Whodunnit. The cast worked hard and they were dedicated, but sadly the whole production had several very amateurish items. Whilst taking their bow, two or three of the actors waved to friends in the audience – not a subtle raised finger, or a wink – but the kind of wave that a parent would die of embarrassment when their 7-year does it at a school event. The days when the director et all stand in front of the auditorium before the play, then again at the interval, and again at the end of the play have gone. Nowadays a well-thought-out brief announcement is anonymously delivered over the sound system.
Most enjoyable and it will have your little grey detecting cells working. Recommended.