A night of murder and mystery

Leven Amateur Theatre Group 'It Must Be Murder'
Leven Amateur Theatre Group 'It Must Be Murder'
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LEVEN Amateur Theatre Group’s latest production was staged in The Gathering Place.

The set built by Alan Weepers and his stage crew, was tastefully done and very bright.

It was split into two rooms, with most of the action taking place in the living room half.

The furniture was well placed to allow the actors several performing areas which they used well.

Louise Porter, played by Karen Waggett, was on stage almost continually but never flagged in the role.

In the second act, she had to portray a different character called Bettina More, who looked similar, and she made everyone believe she was that different person, changing her tone of voice and her mannerisms in a subtle way to convince onlookers she was this other character.

When she switched back to Louise, she retained some of the characteristics of Bettina to make the audience unsure who she was until the very end, when they discovered she was Louise.

Her husband Guy, intent on her murder, was played by Gordon Taylor who also directed the play, helped by his co-director Laura Mowatt. He was plotting to murder Louise and replace her with Bettina and he had to be both suave but menacing.

He managed the suaveness most of the time but his perhaps over-dramatic playing of his character’s death in the second act caused a few chuckles in the audience - perhaps not intended by himself or the author.

The dependable housekeeper, Emma, played by the equally dependable Margaret Hunter, came across as a good soul who was a great support to her employer Louise. It was a great surprise when she turned out to be a rotten egg at the end and took advantage of her employer’s difficult circumstances.

The play was given a great lift by Yvonne Watson, who played Louise’s friend Gabby, when she breezed in in the first act and conveyed Louise’s fears that she was going to be murdered. Buoyant when she needed to be and conspiratorial when the situation called for it, the audience was sorry when Gabby was killed by the fiendish Guy in the second act.

There was a nice little cameo by Lewis Imrie in the first act, who played a guest at the party, and he was confident and assured on stage.

Leo, the “hitman”, was played by new member David Potter.

He seemed very casual in his role and perhaps needed a harder edge to his character to convince that he was capable of murder, even at a distance, as he supplies Louise with the method to kill her husband before her husband does for her.

There was a flash of this at the end and he may have wanted to portray a professional, rather than a thug.

The lighting and effects were very good and were done by James Henderson, who is very well known locally for his lighting expertise.

There was a lack of light at the front of the stage in the second act, which detracted a little, as customers were not so able to see the character’s reactions as they might have liked. But this may have been deliberate to add to the threat unfolding in the play.

The costumes were all appropriate to the characters, and Gaby’s clown costume was a hoot!

The diction throughout was excellent and the movement well thought out, in what was a very wordy play.

The twists at the end were very clever although it was not exactly clear how Louise turned the tables on Leo, who was trying to blackmail her.

In the end, everyone was glad that Louise triumphed over the dastardly Guy and got rid of the scheming Bettina - Guy’s co-conspirator - in an enjoyable piece of theatre.