Red Herrings, Corpses and Canny Deduction

Inspector McEye

by Lunchtime O'Critick

Canny Act's production of A Murder at Barras Hall had it all. A murder, intrigue, some terrible jokes and some fine acting and production.

The ensemble should be congratulated for turning the cosy surroundings of Kinneff Village Hall into the Drawing Room of a fine Country House, complete with Chesterfield and Grandfather clock.

The script, (adapted from an original) although almost entirely re written by director Chris Rodger crackled along at pace where needed, and slowed  occasionaly to give the audience half a chance to keep up . Slightly world weary, always-gets-his murderer Inspector McEye (Phil Murray) and his not too bright and over keen sidekick McNuggett (Ceri Webster) were a great team with superb comic timing, and drole delivery. The members of the household, Cook (The Gardener), Gardener (The Cook), Butler ( the Guest) you get the picture, added nicely placed cameoes to keep the audience always one step behind in trying to unravel the question of who killed the Old Lady of the House.  Marc Taylor, Debbie Murray, Cate Armstrong all keeping the audience guessing.

"May I congratulate you and the rest of the cast for a most enjoyable afternoon's entertainment that I have seen in a long time. Everyone was brilliant, especially the women who played the male roles. The lighting, sound, and stage were of a very high standard which made it such a brilliant play. All the best for your next event."

Strong and word perfect acting from Liz Croughan as the flirty fashion designer and the soon to be disinherited Son, Mr Duck (Karen Hales) demonstrated  an ability to hold the audiences' attention, and act with seamless aplomb, and keep the story moving. This pair of stalwart Canny Act thespians must not be type cast in whatever the next offering from this fine troupe may be. (Liz the flirt and Karen playing a man!)

Susan MacRae as the Butler (isn't it the Butler who always commits the crime in these sort of plays?) was magnificent and hilarious as the deaf, but very Canny servant, who inherited in the end.Cleaner,Anne Marie Rennie(Elsie) provided the surreal moments, dumping a Red Herring (literally) and a dead rat into the story, and provided the silhouette of the soon to be corpse, as well as the dim, nail filing secretary. Sir Jock (Jock Cantley) was in his element as the know all old buffer, chipping in his lines with a cut glass accent to spar with that of Debbie Murray.
Nigel King's crazed vicar  McJolly set the audiences mind thinking as to if there may be another possible murderer with a brief appearance and a pulpit rant, before normal service was resumed.

All in all a great evenings entertainment. What talent the village has, when you consider the whole production from the first class set (constructed by Ian Rennie), Lighting (Chris Rodger), Music (Nigel King) and sound and effects (Tom Rosewier)  in addition to the backstage (Steph and Joseph Rodger, Frances Crabb ,Anne Steed (Top notch costumes) and all the others involved are all from the village .Well done Canny Act, roll on the next production!!

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