PRESCRIPTION FOR MURDER, Stage-Door Theatre Company at the Windmill Theatre, Littleghampton

The cast

The cast

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And there we were, down in Devon in the doctor’s house (a good, realistic set from Mike Gearing and company) – and back in those jolly old days when the local GP could be phoned to make house-calls, even in the middle of a sociable Saturday evening... and when cleaning ladies spoke in pure Loamshire after elocution lessons from Pam Ayres (well done Maureen, of the same surname, as it happens!)

This was a world in which suspect cups of tea and poisoned cakes were part of a meal including lashings and lashings of scarlet-red herrings : Just who was trying to kill who and why ? The doctor ? His seemingly hypochondriac wife ? The mysterious computer rep who seemed to be investigating a case of mistaken identity ? The doctor’s would-be third wife ?

The only people we never suspected were the neighbours , very amusingly played by John Storey and Brenda Hargraves , he as a bowls-obsessed , henpecked husband and she as a wife whose bossiness was reserved exclusively for her charmingly boring husband . These two could have stepped straight out of an early Ayckbourn play and there was real comic chemistry between them .

David Griffin as the much-suspected doctor delivered some energising kicks-up-the-bum to a script which is often a bit too content to coast in third gear . As his apparently long-suffering wife , Anne Anderson was always clear , intelligent and watchable but could have afforded a touch more self-pitying melodrama in her role as victim and a bigger ‘transition’ when revealed as the evil genius of the piece .

Lynn Davis as the doctor’s aspiring partner gave a psychologically convincing performance but looked extremely uncomfortable in those very high heels , which also – to no advantageous effect – made her tower over her intended conquest . And Barry Tinkler as the IT man/ accomplice murderer – well , nicely-played , Barry , though your ever-lengthening pony tail made you look as though you might be moonlighting in a play about Fu Manchu !

I’m a fan of good murder mysteries – and a very-much-better-than-average cast did this one proud . But the best ones are usually rooted in believable quirks of character , whilst this one , like many another, perhaps owes just that bit too much to an increasingly tortuous plot ?

Paul Ward

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