Good but doesn’t quite jell
THE program notes tell us Teri Galea- Thorne’s original idea for her play In the Spirit of Murder was to create a simple murder- mystery.
Over time, the script has transformed into what can only be described as a murder- mystery/ farce.
It is an unusual combination and in this case the genres are not a natural mix. The story concerns the dysfunctional Van Rooken family.
Patriarch Albert ( Eric Blyth) has bought a new house for his wife Estelle ( Kaye Hinds), without her knowledge, in an attempt to reinvent his life and extinguish his perhaps imagined fears that she had an affair with their previous next door neighbour some years before.
He has invited his daughter Claire ( Jacinta Ryan in another polished performance) and her ex- police officer husband Damien ( David BrookeTaylor) to join them for the revealing of the new house and the disclosure to his wife of what he has done.
He has certainly not invited his estranged, troubled younger daughter Ruby ( Rylie Hansen in a stand- out performance), but she is already there when the couples arrive as her no- good, sex starved, criminal acquaintance Stanley ( Damien Moston) has coincidentally chosen this very house to burgle and at the same time use the opportunity to attempt to seduce the youngest Van Rooken girl.
The sudden appearance of the body of an unknown murder victim sets everyone off on a madcap escapade. Add the fact that both the attached couples are having “marital relations” difficulties and the oppor- tunity for high farce is created. Unfortunately there were problems with uneven and disjointed scenes some of which was caused by the unforgivable sin of missed lines.
Also, some rather unusual music selections were undoubtedly supposed to add to the farcical element but ended up being quite distracting.
Townsville Little Theatre has again had the author direct her own play, as was the case with GaleaThorne’s debut production, Murderous Revenge in 2016. In this case it could have been more advantageous to have used a director not intimately involved with the creation of the script. It may have led to a much tighter production.
The set is well designed with multiple exits. Costuming and language is contemporary which doesn’t really fit with the fact that not one character has a mobile phone.
Perhaps just as well as the plot would have been ruined if someone had magically produced one.
There is undoubtedly a good script waiting to be further developed by the playwright, but it is not yet there.
However the opening night audience thoroughly enjoyed the comedy and the surprise ending.
>> In the Spirit of Murder is at the Pimlico Performing Arts Centre in Fulham Rd with performances on Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee at 2pm. Tickets from $ 15 to
$ 25 are available at the door.
In the Spirit of Murder.