The play takes place in the dressing room of a provincial theatre belonging to the star, Addie. She is, somewhat reluctantly, sharing it with her understudy Millie, but this is good news for us because it means we get to witness the delightful banter as the two actresses spar with each other. Joyce Smith plays Addie with an elegance that is just a little frayed around the seams; just right for the faded star that she is portraying. Sally Bennett plays her counterpart, Millie, who has an air of mocking fatalism that is the perfect foil to Addie’s superiority complex. Both actresses are playing their first major roles for some time at KLT and their performances here demonstrate just what audiences have been missing.
Desperately trying to keep order in a world of temperamental theatre types is John Smith as the Justin, the company manager. KLT audiences will be familiar with John’s excellent abilities as an actor and here he demonstrates his versatility in playing a role very different from his recent outings in Sufficient Carbohydrate and The Snow Queen.
Another performer last seen in the pantomime is young Penny James, a recruit from the theatre junior section, playing her first part in an adult production. It is a remarkable debut and, on the strength of it, audiences will hope and expect to see Penny in many more productions to come. She plays the part of Judy, who reveals a possible reason for the bickering between the two main characters: they were both once married to the same man; and wouldn’t you know it – he’s here tonight!
The said husband, Ed, is a theatre impresario and a real old charmer. He is played so beautifully by Mike Wilding that you couldn’t possibly suspect him of murder – or could you?
The cast is completed by Jill Freeman playing the part of Pearl, a theatrical snob who has never really hit the big time. Whilst this is quite a small role it remains memorable due to the actress’s wonderful ability to obtain laughs by playing the part completely straight faced.
Bob Jennings has designed a set that gives us a glimpse of the less than salubrious conditions that exist backstage in many theatres. His ingenious placement of high windows allows the lighting department cleverly to indicate the time of day, with either daylight or the orange glow of street lighting coming through the grimy glass. Thus we are given the backdrop as we learn not only WHOdunit, but WHY, as the play reaches its shocking climax.
The play ran from March 25th to 28th. The next production at Knutsford Little Theatre is Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Absurd Person Singular’ June 3rd – 6th.