There are some productions where you walk into the theatre knowing the entire plot – A Christmas Carol is a tale as old as time; and there have been more takes on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat hitting than cyclones in Townsville in the past 30 years – so for a relatively unknown show to grace a local stage is exciting.
Prior to walking into the Pimlico Performing Arts Centre for Townsville Little Theatre’s production of Bloody Murder last night, we delightfully knew the bare minimum about the show. And on reflection, the less you know, the more amazing this show is!
Set in a lavish estate in the British countryside, Bloody Murder opens in similar fashion to many stereotypical whodunits – introducing the audience to each of the over-the-top characters one would expect to find in an Agatha Christie mystery. But it isn’t long before things take a turn, and you realise this is no ordinary murder mystery.
Jennine Padgett, carrying the narrative as wealthy lady of the manor, Lady Somerset, was superb: you’d be forgiven for thinking she had stepped onto stage directly from her own British estate, embodying the full persona of the auspicious aunt. Jennine’s performance was just the tip of a very talented iceberg – with a cast of varied levels of theatre experience all complementing each other; not a weak link among them.
Matthew Cresswell took on the role of the rambunctious Major in a performance that made it hard to believe this was his first play. His confidence and pompousness were equal parts comical and believable, and I daresay local theatre groups will have Matthew added to their speed dial list after this show. Richard Price as the inebriated actor Tremaine and Benn Cox as nefarious nephew Charles both kept the audience in stitches with both their one liners and expressions throughout, and Enya Flett as the young ingenue Emma is demonstrating that she will be a force to be reckoned with onstage – despite this being just her third production, she held her own – although we have seen her take on quite similar roles, so look forward to seeing her accept the challenge of branching out in future shows.
Teri Galea-Thorne has popped up in a lot of previous TLT productions we’ve seen, and always has a tendency to give scenes a kickstart as dialogue slows down. It was no different in this one – there comes a time when she is handed the reins of this show, and takes off with a gallop. Teri gives a splendid performance in Bloody Murder, which has us even more excited to see her original production later this year.
Special mention must go to Stephen Duffie, who took on more accents in one play than I’ve attempted in my life. Stephen goes from a Chinese Detective to a Spanish-French thief to a Scottish priest in the blink of an eye, and never fails to spur laughter when he’s on stage.
Our heartfelt congratulations go to directors Eric Blyth and Anne Coombe – you have produced an incredible piece of theatre that has left us considering returning for another round of laughs this weekend. The set, designed by Glenn Shield and featuring items from Elsie + Audrey Vintage Hire and Townsville Restoration & Lighting, elicited oohhs and ahhs from the audience as the curtains parted, as did the costuming overseen by Pamela Garrick.
If you know the storyline of Bloody Murder, Townsville Little Theatre’s take on it is well worth watching. And if you don’t know the storyline, keep it that way until you see the show; we can guarantee your guess of who the killer is will change more than once, and you’ll leave smiling from ear to ear.
Catch Townsville Little Theatre’s Bloody Murder at the Pimlico Performing Arts Centre until this Saturday, 24 March. Tickets are available here.