You’ll die laughing!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

COMEDY and murder mystery are favourites with theatre audiences; in fact, throw in a few catchy songs and you have a near-perfect recipe for a hit show.

Murdered to Death, Tabs Productions’ opener in the Pomegranate’s six-week repertory season, doesn’t have the musical element, but it’s jolly good fun all the same, and thoroughly enjoyed by a large first-night audience.

Clues, motives and suspects abound when Mildred Bagshot (a welcome return for Sue Earnshaw) is gunned down at her weekend houseparty. And since the only available detective is Acting Inspector Pratt (Nick Briggs, channelling Clouseau and Basil Fawlty), it’s a good thing local celebrity sleuth Miss Maple (Karen Henson in great form) is on hand to solve the crime. Or possibly not.

Thanks to perfectly judged performances from the entire cast, all the ingredients of a classic Golden Age country house murder are firmly in place and ripe for subversion. There’s a dodgy French art dealer (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas) complete with forged paintings; a beautiful blonde (Rebecca Tanwen); a bluff colonel with a secret past (Adrian Lloyd James) and his irascible wife (Dot Smith); a dowdy niece (Sarah Wynne Kordas) who stands to inherit a fortune; and of course the butler. There’s always a butler, here played by John Hester.

Did Dorothy steal the gun? Will Miss Maple remember where she left her knitting? And will the inspector ever get the constable’s name right?

That would be telling. It’s at the Pomegranate until Saturday and the rep season lasts until March 10.