26th – 28th April 2001
In a remote and dilapidated country house, three siblings share an antagonistic life together. All are artists who have failed to live up to their own, let alone anyone else’s, expectations. The older brother Mortimer is a composer who has never realised his youthful potential, his sister Jocelyn is a writer of thrillers who has never completed a novel and Brinton is a painter, who does not even let his family see his work. When Jocelyn’s partner, Norris – an insurance investigator with aspirations to be a real detective – arrives home and interrupts a recital by Mortimer, a row breaks out in which Mortimer reveals he intends to disinherit the family and give the house to a former student, Wendy Jones…
Mortimer Chalke: Robertson Bell
Jocelyn Polegate, Mortimer’s sister: Enid Farr
Brinton Chalke, Mortimer’s brother: Nick Roberts
Amy Polegate, Jocelyn’s daughter: Suzi Prince
Norris Honeywell: Mike Long
Wendy Windwood: Mary Warrington
Produced by Brenda Prior, assisted by Paul Shave
Newbury Weekly News review
Mortimer Chalke, a frustrated composer, lives a disillusioned life in the country with his equally unsuccessful brother and sister, and the latter’s down-at-heel boyfriend and hostile daughter. When Mortimer announces one day – out of thinly veiled spite – that he intends to leave the family home to Wendy, a former music pupil he last saw 20 years earlier, and that he has asked her to come and stay, he presents his younger siblings with a textbook motive for murder.
If this plot sounds familiar, it’s supposed to. It Could Be Any One of Us is Alan Ayckbourn’s send-up of the Agatha Christie genre of country-house whodunits that simply refuse to go away.
This didn’t strike me as classic Ayckbourn. Somehow it stops short of being a fully-fledged spoof, yet lacks the character development and excitement of a real thriller. Nevertheless, Compton Players tackled the piece with style and enthusiasm, and the performance, if a little slow at the start, gathered considerable pace as it went on.
Mike Long gave a finely understated performance as Norris, the insurance investigator-turned-private eye who longs to have a real murder to solve. Nick Roberts was excellent as the unbalanced Brinton, contrasting the character’s general plodding awkwardness with moments of menace and aggression. Robertson Bell brought a suitably condescending air to the part of Mortimer, while Enid Farr gave a strong performance as his long-suffering sister Jocelyn.
Mary Warrington, as Wendy the guest, provided some hilarious moments, particularly in the second act as she nervously recited nonsensical children’s rhymes while Norris scoured the house for murderous intruders. Finally, Suzi Prince as the irritable daughter Amy, deserves a special mention. Her portrayal of the moody teenager was brilliant, with perfect attention to detail and body language.
A very well-appointed set and good lighting from Neil Larkin added to the quality of the production. And, despite my reservations about the play itself, producers Brenda Prior and Paul Shave presented us with a highly enjoyable evening.