3rd – 5th May 1990
A young woman arrives home to find her house occupied by three strangers claiming to be her husband, cousin and sister.. she appears not to recognise them but they all seem to know a lot about her, but what which of them is telling the truth?
Mary: Marjorie Treacher
“Jack”: Peter Monger
“Peter”: Paul Shave
“Stella”: Elizabeth Saxton
Robbins: Dave Hawkins
Noel: Ian Hickling
Gale: Robertson Bell
George : Eric Saxton
Produced by Eric Saxton
Newbury Weekly News review
Who can tell, when Murder is in Mind?
Compton Players production of Terence Feely’s Murder in Mind was a good attempt at one of the more difficult theatre genres: the thriller.
The action took place in an excellent period country house sitting room in the present day. Mary, returning from an aborted plane journey to America is confronted by three ‘strangers’ who protest that they are her husband, Jack, cousin Peter and sister Stella.
We, the audience, became convinced that the three are imposters with villainous motives, as they threaten Mary into divulging where she has hidden a large amount of cash. The trio is particularly hapless, though as they allow their captive to phone the police and later the family doctor, the former to be taken in by their subterfuge and the latter turning out to be in cahoots with them.
The obligatory body in the cupboard appears later and much rushing backwards and forwards to the airport takes place until the money is unearthed and we learn that Mary intended to run off with her lover but shot him after an attempted double-cross, furthermore, the ‘relatives’ turn out to be just who they say they are and it is Mary who has duped us by a convincing piece of acting as she denies her identity.
In the final moments, Peter is shot by Mary as she re-enacts the killing of George. I found it hard to take the police seriously at this point, as they allowed her to show us the crime with a loaded gun. We could see what was coming a mile off!
If a thriller is to double-cross an audience, it has to be believable and sadly this one fell short of the mark. Yes, there were many twists and turns, but these should merely divert the head from side to side, not leave it spinning.
Amidst this backdrop the cast stuck to their task manfully. Marjorie Treacher as Mary played her with a suitable balance of hysteria and artful cunning. Given she was on the brink of insanity, a wide-eyed craziness wouldn’t have gone amiss but this was the central character and Miss Treacher coped well.
Peter Monger, Paul Shave and Elizabeth Saxton had difficult parts as Jack, Peter and Stella trying to convince us they were relatives and villains at the same time they managed to carry it off, although I prefer my villains to be rather nastier than they achieved. Ian Hickling as the doctor came nearer to the ideal with an oily sincerity together with a menacing undertone.
Credit is due to producer, set designer and body in the cupboard, Eric Saxton. Marshalling the talent at his disposal well, he provided us with a good evening’s entertainment, seemingly thoroughly enjoyed.