Checkout Girls by Louise Roche – April 2023 Spring Production30 January 2023
Produced by Chloe Macdonald-Spiers
Thursday 16, Friday 17 & Saturday 18 Nov 2023
£10.00 per person – Tickets in advance
Starts at 7:45pm – Doors open at 7.00pm
Bar & usual Raffle
Review by Sam Peates
WOODCOTE AMATEUR DRAMATIC SOCIETY AUTUMN PRODUCTION
THE AMATEUR KILLER
By Robert Scott
The WADS Autumn Production, ‘The Amateur Killer,’ was advertised as a ‘chiller thriller’ and it certainly lived up to the description. The cast included most of the Society’s experienced performers directed by debutante Producer, Chloe Spiers. Chloe first joined the WADs when she was six and has been a member for twenty years. She must have gained a good deal of her dramatic knowledge from those she found herself directing. She carried it off with aplomb and the actors rose to the challenge and perhaps gained extra incentive from wishing to perform well for their protégé.
The play presented many challenges and was described by Chloe as a ‘meta’ play, a sort of Russian doll with plots inserted inside each other, each one mirroring the other, which served somehow to create and maintain a tense atmosphere. We, the audience, were there to watch a play; they, the WADS were there to perform, but the characters were also members of an am-dram group rehearsing a murder play called, ‘Adieu’. It soon became clear that the ‘real lives’ of the am-dram players mirrored the ‘Adieu’ characters so that the lines between the two plots became blurred and we became invested in the second plot, the sordid seemingly ‘real-life’ passions and prejudices of the actors, leading to blackmail and death. Does the death result from a car accident, or is it murder? Is the dead man the intended victim or is it the result of mistaken identity? Is it significant that two suspects belong to the same running club? Is there something suspicious and sinister about one of the investigating detectives? All these questions need to be answered before the murderer is revealed.
James Peedell as Lucas Thompson, the leading man, portrayed the complexities and contradictions of Thompson’s character with growing confidence. His affair with Natalie Prescott formed the central theme of the plot. Natalie, played effectively by Hellen Coyne, failed to persuade Thompson to leave his wife.
Daniel Healey, Adieu’s director, an employee made redundant by Thompson, set out to blackmail him over the affair. James Mathers was wholly credible as the amoral, arrogant womaniser, a man with a grudge, but with his own frailties, owing money to criminal elements.
Heather Simpson was well-suited to the part of Audrey Critchley the general dogsbody of the society, fiercely protective of her daughter and anxious about her relationship with Healey. Gillian Fowmes performed well as the naïve Lauren Critchley, besotted with Daniel Healey, but also devoted to her mother.
Terry Sopp as the very dubious drama critic, asking too many of the wrong questions, and a blackmail accomplice, used his experience well in an uncharacteristic role. Natalia Ruiz-Moreno gave a top-rate performance as Lucas Thompson’s wife, Rosie. She brought passion and pathos to the role and won both the sympathy and the empathy of the audience as the injured party driven to the end of her tether.
The rather plodding Detective Gregson was a good part for Patrick Thomas, and Sue Clark as the ‘bent’ detective sounded the right enigmatic notes. Finally, after all the twists and turns, all the loose ends appeared to have been tied, but we couldn’t be sure which play we had been watching – it didn’t matter! Had we stumbled into a den of vice and intrigue in the shape of the Novershell Amateur Dramatic Society? Thankfully not! They were real people performing a play! Or were they? Of course! They were the Woodcote Amateur Dramatic Society performing The Amateur Killer’ and, as ever, doing a great job! Ah well! ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,’ (William Shakespeare, ‘As You Like It’).
Posted on 4th December 2023