REVIEW: Burgess Hill Theatre Club breathes life into murder mystery

The Hollow
The Hollow
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The Hollow, Burgess Hill Theatre Club, until April 23

It was May 1960 when Detective Sgt Penny and Inspector Colquhoun first started looking for clues to a murder in Burgess Hill.

In those pre-Beatles days admission to Burgess Hill Theatre Club’s Agatha Christie thriller The Hollow was four bob and the cast performed at the Park Centre in Park Road, a temporary home.

Nearly 56 years later the corpse of the old murder mystery had fresh life breathed into it by an excellent cast of sleuths and deceivers.

Skilful stagecraft kept those in the audience at the little Burgess Hill Theatre who did not know the outcome guessing. The whole cast expertly trawled red herrings for the audience, who were invited at the interval to guess ‘whodunnit’ in a draw and win a bottle of bubbly.

Even for those who did know the outcome it was an absorbing evening because of some splendid characterisation.

Come to think of it, people had started disappearing long before the play got to Burgess Hill.

Hercule Poirot was removed from the book version, and the original Inspector Grange and Sergeant Clark metamorphosed into a cerebral rather than cynical Inspector Colquhoun from Andy Chalk and note-taking sidekick Detective Sergeant Penny from Andy Squires.

The cast impressively evoked the mood of second-guessing and suspicion, set against a single but effective period set. They created enough menace to make you feel even in the security of the audience that the heavy hand of the law might land upon your shoulder.

There were stacks of convincing performances but Samantha Payne was outstandingly deceptive as Gerda Cristow, Cherry Woodhouse super-confident as Veronica Craye and the bewhiskered Chris Smith was memorable as laid-back Sir Henry Angkatell. Callum Bucke overdid the creepy and robotic Gudgeon a little, but this was an entertaining performance of the play, which runs until April 23.

To buy tickets call the box office on 01444 242984 or visit the theatre on Wednesday or Saturday mornings between 10am and 1pm.

Visit www.burgesshilltheatreclub.com to find out more.

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