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Stage Dragon: The Sound of Murder, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 28 Feb, 2017
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2017

By Ferenc Hepp

Following the all singing all dancing Guys and Dolls last week, this week we return to the very different world of murder mystery at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre with Talking Scarlet’s production of The Sound of Murder by William Fairchild.

Ben Roddy in The Sound of Murder.

Having not heard of this play or the author previously, I wanted to do a bit of research online, but could not find much about either.

For those in a similar situation to me, the plot revolves around the unhappy marriage between Charles and Anne Norbury (played by Marcus Hutton and Joanna Bending during this performance) which is set up at the start by Hutton’s quite chauvinistic and nasty portrayal of Charles ordering his wife around and not agreeing to a divorce which she is desperately after.

This comes across well, particularly looking at the mannerisms and physicality of Hutton. Charles is a children’s author (despite not liking children) and the setting being 1960, he records his ideas on to tape, which are then typed up by his secretary, Miss Forbes (Michelle Morris).

Thew Sound of Murder plays at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday, March 4.

In the meanwhile, the ‘perfect murder’ is being planned by Anne’s love interest, Peter Marriott (Ben Roddy) and all seems too easy until we discover that the whole of the plot has been recorded by Charles’s tape recorder and therefore Miss Forbes knows everything.

However, the plan is carried out and we are introduced to Inspector Davidson (John Hester) and PC Nash (Jolyon Young) who are tasked to investigate the case and this is where things get more complicated. What is the extent of Miss Forbes’s involvement? Where is Charles’s body? Will Peter and Anne achieve what they had planned?

Morris is a stereotypical 1960s secretary, even as far as the old fashioned glasses, and gives a good performance with a good range of emotions as her character finds herself more and more involved in the plot.

Hutton plays nasty well.

There is also a good relationship between the naive Hester and not-the-brightest-spark Young, and it would have been good to see more of that for some added humour.

In fact, the script was weak and nowhere near gripping enough for me.

The direction by Patrick Kearns was satisfactory, but there was not enough substance there to do anything exciting with. Even the reveal, when we find out the twist, is communicated rather quickly and in a manner as if it was someone reading the plot summary, rather than with any dramatic tension.

The set does the job adequately, but unfortunately it does look like that it has been built rather hurriedly and with a limited budget as some of the blocks do not align properly and we therefore see some missing paintwork.

The cast and creative team do try their best with what they have to work with but with a insubstantial script such as this, it is not a show that kept me engrossed as murder mysteries should, and perhaps it is no surprise that I could not find much information online in the first place.

The Sound of Murder runs until Saturday, March 4, and tickets are available via the website: www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

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