PRESCRIPTION FOR MURDER, Stage-Door Theatre Company at the Windmill Theatre, Littleghampton

And there we were, down in Devon in the doctor's house (a good, realistic set from Mike Gearing and company) '“ and back in those jolly old days when the local GP could be phoned to make house-calls, even in the middle of a sociable Saturday evening... and when cleaning ladies spoke in pure Loamshire after elocution lessons from Pam Ayres (well done Maureen, of the same surname, as it happens!)

The cast
The cast

This was a world in which suspect cups of tea and poisoned cakes were part of a meal including lashings and lashings of scarlet-red herrings : Just who was trying to kill who and why ? The doctor ? His seemingly hypochondriac wife ? The mysterious computer rep who seemed to be investigating a case of mistaken identity ? The doctor’s would-be third wife ?

The only people we never suspected were the neighbours , very amusingly played by John Storey and Brenda Hargraves , he as a bowls-obsessed , henpecked husband and she as a wife whose bossiness was reserved exclusively for her charmingly boring husband . These two could have stepped straight out of an early Ayckbourn play and there was real comic chemistry between them .

David Griffin as the much-suspected doctor delivered some energising kicks-up-the-bum to a script which is often a bit too content to coast in third gear . As his apparently long-suffering wife , Anne Anderson was always clear , intelligent and watchable but could have afforded a touch more self-pitying melodrama in her role as victim and a bigger ‘transition’ when revealed as the evil genius of the piece .

Lynn Davis as the doctor’s aspiring partner gave a psychologically convincing performance but looked extremely uncomfortable in those very high heels , which also – to no advantageous effect – made her tower over her intended conquest . And Barry Tinkler as the IT man/ accomplice murderer – well , nicely-played , Barry , though your ever-lengthening pony tail made you look as though you might be moonlighting in a play about Fu Manchu !

I’m a fan of good murder mysteries – and a very-much-better-than-average cast did this one proud . But the best ones are usually rooted in believable quirks of character , whilst this one , like many another, perhaps owes just that bit too much to an increasingly tortuous plot ?

Paul Ward

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