Fringe Box



Stage Dragon Review: Crimes On Centre Court At The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 20 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 25 Oct, 2022

By Ferenc Hepp

New Old Friends Theatre Company are resident at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre for two nights this week, with their five star, hilarious tennis-based murder mystery, Crimes on Centre Court.

Lord Knows, chair of The Whombledun International Invitational Tennis Tournament, has died, and his son, Hugh, is suspicious.

Crimes On Centre Court at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Pamela Raith Photography.

Hugh calls in Perry and Penny Pink, who run a detective agency. Chaos ensues as the future of the tournament is in doubt, and once the bumbling heir of Lord Knows (the new Lord Knows to his surprise) confirms that the tournament can go ahead, the Pinks decide that the only way they will be able to solve the case is for Penny to pretend that she works in marketing and for Perry to enter the tournament.

Crimes On Centre Court. Pamela Raith Photography.

Pandemonium continues as further people die in various ways, including being impaled by a net post and being buried by balls from a ball machine, Perry makes surprising progress in the event, and the plot thickens with various characters having different motives.

In a brilliantly constructed closing scene, Penny explains the events of the fortnight and names the guilty party.

There are only four actors playing all the characters and they all work extremely hard with exemplary comic timing. They don’t merely portray a multitude of characters, but also appear as Hedges and burst into song at regular intervals to move the action along.

Crimes On Centre Court. Pamela Raith Photography.

Ben Thornton is Benson Hedges, as well as Perry Pink, and he somewhat exaggerates his characteristics at the start of the action, possibly a little too over the top, but then settles down and gives a most competent and energetic performance.

Sedona Rose is Sedgey McSedgeface, as well as Penny Pink, and has a brilliant rapport with Thornton throughout. They clearly fancy each other, but pretend that their relationship is purely a professional one.

Kirsty Cox is Sister Hedge, as well as seven other characters, including Wendy Weaver, who “has no authority” (a famous parish council Zoom meeting moment from lockdown days) and gives a brilliant performance with confident comic timing.

However, the highlight for me is Emile Clarke as Harry the Hedgend, as well as his main character of Hugh Knows, the new chairman of the club. His posh upper-class accent, as well as his hilarious facial expressions made me laugh out loud whenever he appeared on stage.

Crimes On Centre Court. Pamela Raith Photography.

New Old Friends Theatre Company was formed in 2008, and run by married couple, Feargus Woods Dunlop and Heather Westwell. The writing and direction by Feargus Woods Dunlop is clever, extremely funny, and works perfectly on the set designed by Caitlin Abbott, with the green and purple colours of Wimbledon very much in evidence.

The costume design by Connie Watson allows the actors to carry out the very fast changes and distinguishes each one perfectly. There are lots of play on words, very clever use of props and physical humour too, which add to the hilarity.

In the words of Abbott: “I love making theatre that is playful, imaginative and dynamic.” This is definitely achieved, and is exactly what we need at the moment with all the bad news around at the moment.

You can escape for a couple of hours by booking for this show, and I guarantee that you will leave the theatre with a huge smile on your face.

Crimes on Centre Court is only on for one more night, on Thursday, October 20 and tickets are available online here or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *