Touch of Frost in players’ thriller

“They always do the characters so well,” remarked a fellow spectator as the tentacles of a thriller reached out to the packed audience.

“They always do the characters so well,” remarked a fellow spectator as the tentacles of a thriller reached out to the packed audience.

Characterisation is one of the many things Old Tupton Chapel Players continue to do well in their bi-annual productions.

Eye-catching sets and little-known plays have been the group’s stock in trade for over a quarter of a century.

Their presentations are carefully constructed to give as rich a theatrical experience as is possible in a small hall.

Scene-setting film footage about the author and play make it well worth turning up at least ten minutes before curtain up.

Take the current production, Cat’s Cradle by Leslie Sands. Spectators find out that the playwright made his professional acting debut at Sheffield Lyceum in 1941 and went on to appear in top-rated cop programmes Cluff and Z Cars as well as penning television series Van der Valk.

It would be interesting to know whether Sands shared any of the traits of his lead character Inspector Frost in Cat’s Cradle.

In the capable hands of one of Chapel Players’ finest Matthew Joynes, the inspector is portrayed as patronising, frustrated and insubordinate as he tries to smash down a wall of silence to solve a murder.

With a bulging waistline held in by an ill-fitting jacket and sporting a moustache (perfect look for the current Movember charity campaign), Matthew epitomises a world-weary, cynical detective whose retirement hinges on him solving a crime which has haunted a community for over a decade.

His is a marathon performance which gives him little time off stage and a huge amount of lines, several of which are highly amusing.

His supporting players include company stalwarts Eileen Wildsmith as the protective mother-of-the bride, Kathleen Sorrell as the dotty doctor and Colin Sorrell as innkeeper.

John Harrop playing the groom-to-be’s aristocratic uncle, Andrew Bradley as investigative reporter, Ann Walters as inn-keepers wife and Grace Shepherd as the bride-to-be add vital ingredients to this pot-boiler of a thriller.

The slow-burning pace of the production reflects life in a close-knit community where time has stood still.

The set is a masterpiece in design depicting the oak-panelled reception area of a quiet pub which is furnished with brasses and bookcases.

Director Sally Mason challenges audiences to guess who the murderer is. You have just two chances left to solve the crime…on Friday and Saturday, November 16 and 17, at 7.15pm in Old Tupton Methodist Church schoolroom.