Review: Dial M for Murgatroyd

The Eastern Angles Christmas show has over the past 25 years become as much a Christmas tradition as the panto, mincepies and crackers.

It’s always an opportunity for this talented little company to let it’s hair down and indulge in some comedy. This year’s offering comes from collaborative pens of Julian Harries and Pat Whymark and is a murder mystery in the Miss Marple mould. However there’s a comedic twist, if Agetha Christie had done comedy she would have done it just like this!

There’s a wild beast on the loose in the woods around the village, the hotly contested annual horticultural show is looming but the impossibly posh Fitzall family have more pressing things on their minds.

The family seem to be getting through butlers at an alarming rate with another bumped off everytime they turn their backs. There’s in fighting and rivalry within the family and plenty of places to point the finger of suspicion, but just ‘who did it’?

Call Miss Murgatroyd who surely will unravel it all?

The cast of five are superb and multi-talented taking on twenty characters between them and not once getting confused, even when it includes lightning on-stage costume and character changes that are worth the ticket money alone.

Julian Harries in addition to being co-writer takes on a variety of roles, mostly notably the slightly mad-scientist like Clive Fitzall as well as a confused police inspector, Harries is a terrific comedy actor.

A newcomer to the Angles stage is Emma Finlay who plays Violet Fitzall as well as Mad Meg, hopefully she will be returning to the company for future productions.

Dial M for Murgatroyd is set in the 1940s and also features many of the characters typically seen in movies of the period, a gung-hoo daughter Georgina Fitzall (played by Deborah Hewitt) who would rather shoot and bag a tiger than a husband, much to her mother’s disappointment. Georgina’s brother Fenton (Samuel Martin) has always been a disappointment to his father and resents his father’s attempts to make him man up.

Patrick Marlowe manages to take on the roles of seven of the cast but most notably Miss Murgatroyd as well as Sir Gerald Bartrum, it is Murgatroyd’s interrogation of Bartrum that provides for one of the most memorable performances in the play which is simply outstanding.

Add in a few more dead bodies, twists and turns aplenty, and some of Pat Whymark’s witty songs and you have what has to be one of the best pieces of original drama that I have seen this year.

– Mark Keable, Ipswich24 magazine –

• Playing at The Sir John Mills Theatre until 12th January, 2013 and then at Woodbridge’s Seckford Theatre 15-26th January, 2013 and finally 29-31st January at the Key Theatre, Peterborough.

Box office 01473 211498 or website

All pics Mike Kwasniak