November 2015 – Cat’s Cradle

CAT’S CRADLE

PARLOUR PLAYERS, SANDERSTEAD

Reviewed by Peter Steptoe

This was a well crafted mystery play, written in 1983 by Leslie Sands. Certainly a ‘who dunnit’, but also a drama with a collection of characters we empathised with. Though static in recalling, the unsolved kidnapping of a six month old baby twelve years previously, the silence of the audience, broken only by laughter at the sardonic observations of Inspector Frost showed the grip that this well acted play had on us. Roger Dale as the detective revisiting the village where his failure to solve the crime, had always troubled him, commanded his part with distinction, and the ending was very moving.

Congratulations on the set which showed excellently the lobby of the Cresswell Arms hotel and the costumes especially at the end when departing for the wedding.

Peggy Fletcher (Felicity Abbot), the receptionist had we learned a brief affair with the Inspector and was now married to Sam Fletcher (Jim Gibbons) a former gardener and whose dislike of the Inspector was plain to see. Did he suspect the affair we wondered? And had Peggy retained a lingering affection for the Inspector?

Joyce Wells was Miss Merton a permanent guest, an Alzheimer sufferer, a former doctor, and the possessor of a guilty secret, which caused her to commit suicide. A nice performance this, marred only perhaps by excessive shaking.

Lauren Fowler as Sarah Fulton was the attractive daughter about to be married and was aged seven at the time her baby brother was kidnapped. The final scene when she appeared in her bridal dress on her way to the church will live long in my memory. Her Mother Pamela (Madeline Reeve) was secretary to Sir Charles Cresswell (Chris Bishop) who appeared to own everything and thought that money could settle all problems.  Pamela also indicated her dislike of the Inspector and showed plainly that she did not wish the past to be disinterred. I liked the cut glass accent of Sir Charles and admired the exquisitely tailored morning suit he wore for the wedding.

Joe Crisfield was Bob Marriott a reporter for the local newspaper with the hots for the bride to be, who was to be married to a recently appeared nephew of Sir Charles. Would she run away with Bob was a nice sub plot and he was also the only friend that Inspector Frost had. Alas money did compensate Bob for his loss as Sir Charles dangled a job in Fleet Street (1983 remember) in front of him.

A good old fashioned play, well worth reviving, a credit to the genre, and ably directed by Ron White.