Opening the 2019 season for Castle Hill Players is the clever and very funny BLOODY MURDER with more twists and turns in its plot than one would think possible. Written by Ed Sala this apparently typical British murder mystery begins like many others – a group of the usual suspects gather for a soirée at the isolated country estate of the rich Lady Somerset. Sandy Velini shines in the role of this character as she leads the way for her guests in this intriguing mystery that is definitely not what it seems. Continue reading BLOODY MURDER. TWISTING MURDEROUS ENTERTAINMENT.→
Deborah Brevoort’s play is based on the terrorist attack on December 21 1988 in which Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in mid-air, due to a time activated bomb in a suitcase, as it travelled from London to New York City. The explosion scattered pieces of the plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the surrounding hills, Scotland, as well as the remains of the 243 passengers and 16 crew members. Twenty-one houses on the ground were destroyed, and 11 people there lost their lives. An international conflict arose in the aftermath and eventually the Libyan leader Qaddafi extradited two suspects in 1998, one sentenced to 27 years and the other acquitted.
THE WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE is a poetic drama, in the form of a Greek tragedy, takes place on a hillside near Lockerbie seven year after the attack as a woman roams searching for the remains of her son. It is a moving and intimate portrayal of the effects of grief. As one of the women say, grief is a guest who remains too long, and the characters must come to terms with loss and decide whether the desire for justice and hate should rule their lives or whether they can somehow turn these feelings around to a more compassionate approach.
Madelaine Livingston, played by Kim Schad, is a New Jersey housewife who lost her son but whose body was never found. Grief has been all consuming in her life as she cannot find closure and it is destroying her marriage to Bill Livingston, played by Stephen Snars. These people portray their loss in very different ways but cannot connect and support each other.
They meet Olive Allison, played by Michelle Masefield, a woman of Lockerbie with her own tragic story. Ollie and two women, played by Rebecca Fletcher and Anne Geenen, form the “chorus” and offer a special kind of grief counselling, telling their own tragic stories about that awful day when the plane crashed quite literally on their houses.
Directed by Bernard Teuben this is a dark and emotional journey set with very subdued lighting and traditional Scottish music. A touch of humour to lighten the atmosphere is found in the character of Hattie, played by Penny Johnson, who is a cleaning lady working for George Jones.
George Jones, played by Larry Murphy, is a US Government official whose job it is to burn the clothes of the victims found in the plane’s wreckage. The women, determined to convert an act of hatred into an act of love, want to wash the clothes of the dead and return them to the victim’s families in a symbolic act of cleansing.
This is a sentimental and touching production and very much resonates today when acts of terrorism proliferate. The play asks how do we respond?
THE WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE is playing till the 12th August. Performance times are Wednesday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s at 8.15pm and Sundays at 4.30pm at the Pavilion Theatre. Castle Hill.
Jeffery Archer’s THE ACCUSED is a courtroom drama with a difference, as the audience is the jury. This final play for Castle Hill Players 2016 season is a fitting end to a very successful, enjoyable and varied 50th anniversary seaon.
Dr. Patrick Sherwood, played in the original production at Windsor in 2000 by Jeffery Archer, stands trial accused of poisoning his wife in this enthralling courtroom drama set in the Old Bailey. Once the audience has made its decision the play continues – with one of two different endings, depending on its verdict. It is only at this time that we discover the verdict.
The evidence is presented to the jury by two of Britain’s best barristers, highly experienced, and entirely loathsome of each other.
Sandy Velini as Antonia Kersley QC and Matt Tredinnick as Sir James Barrington QC are the two stand out performances as they attempt to win the audience/the jury over with each witticism and barb.
The clever script slowly reveals clues about the murder having the audience believe one thing only to be convinced of a different truth when another witness takes the stand.
Jason Spindlow as the accused Patrick Sherwood bides his time in the dock till getting his say in the last act. Is he the grieving husband or the cunning murderer?!
His supposed lover Jennifer Mitchell, played by Ellen Northcott, is another contradictory character.
The witnesses are all colorful characters played by a strong supporting cast. Ken Fletcher plays the scientific expert Professor Alistair Forsyth, Sumesh Kannanmasseril is Masoud Hussein the pharmacist, Dennis Channells plays the porter Albert Webster, and David Hill is Detective Chief Inspector Payne. As Mr Justice Cartwright, Paul Houchin seems like he may have been sitting on the bench all his life. The jury bailiff (Alan Long)and guard (Ron Parnell) and assistants to the barristers, played by Sarah Sparke and David Allsopp, all add authenticity to the play.
The director Bernard Teuben draws the cast together to provide the audience with a humorous and intriguing evening. I am not going to reveal the opening night audience’s decision – go and decide for yourself! I am very tempted to go back in the hope of seeing the alternative ending.
THE ACCUSED is playing the Pavilion Theatre Castle Hill until Saturday 10th December. Performance times – Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8.15 pm and Sundays at 4.30 pm.
Nick Enright’s 1989 play DAYLIGHT SAVING is a great night’s entertainment at the Pavilion Theatre.
The play is set in the late 1980s on the first day of summer, when the clocks change and Sydney-siders gain an extra hour to live their dreams or perhaps be caught out. Enright delves into unhappy marriages and questions what it is that makes us lonely even in the midst of others. However this is not a drama but a comedy, almost a farce, with a clever plot weaving its way among the characters and features plenty of very funny one-liners and astute observations.