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Dereham Operatic Society review

PUBLISHED: 17:19 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:06 07 July 2010

Dereham Operatic Society

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

Dereham Memorial Hall





There was a delightful irony to the first performance of this hilarious spoof on the world of am dram in that Thursday's original opening night was cancelled after leading cast member Doug Hartley was laid low with a bug that meant he couldn't venture far from the smallest room!.

Dereham Operatic Society

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

Dereham Memorial Hall

There was a delightful irony to the first performance of this hilarious spoof on the world of am dram in that Thursday's original opening night was cancelled after leading cast member Doug Hartley was laid low with a bug that meant he couldn't venture far from the smallest room!.

But what a trouper he proved to be by bouncing back in the demanding roles of both Pawn the butler and Colonel King. Mr Hartley played both characters with great aplomb and fully deserved his share of the warm applause awarded the cast at the final curtain.

Real life drama aside, the Society couldn't have chosen a more appropriate night, when people across the nation were being funny for money for the Comic Relief charity, than to stage this howler of a show.

The comic capers on stage resulted in there being more corpses lying around than found in TV's Midsomer Murders.

Almost every archetypal character that ever walked across an amateur theatre stage was there including the less-than-intelligent police Inspector O'Reilly, well portrayed by Ian Sandell, the Guild chairwoman, wonderfully played by Paul Gregory and the roles of Clarissa and the French maid Regine in the most capable hands of Vanessa Dupont.

One man sitting in front of me was doubled up with laughter at one point almost falling out of his chair.

For £7 a ticket you would have to go a long way to find more laughs for such a bargain price.

Director Tim Cara production didn't miss a trick, with everything that could possibly go wrong doing exactly that including missed cues, missing pages of script, broken props and falling scenery.

After Friday's show Mr Hartley, 55, revealed he had been devastated that his illness had meant the cancellation of the opening night.

“The cast have all been wonderful about it and once I was on stage tonight the adrenalin kicked in and I got a second wind and really enjoyed the roles,” he said.

As one member of the audience was overheard to comment : “It is really clever of them (the cast) to make acting appear so bad.” Indeed.

Richard Parr

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