Busybody was originally written in 1964 as a vehicle for one of that era’s leading comic actresses, Irene Handl. Motives for murder abound and everyone is a suspect. A detective superintendent is plagued by two busybodies, a corpse that vanishes and an office cleaner. In the programme, Phil Vivian, the chairman, invites the audience to work out who (if anyone) dunnit, what (if anything) they did and whither (if anywhere) things keep disappearing! The play will keep you on the edge of your seats while having you roaring with laughter as you try to answer those questions.
All Saints Dramatic Society have a well-earned loyal following and those attending the first night evidently thoroughly enjoyed the performance, although plagued by the intense heat – I do hope the persistent fanning with programmes did not distract the cast too much. However, may I beg you all to turn off your mobile phones as the performance was interrupted by at least four phones ringing and two people actually answering them! If you perform yourself, you will know how difficult it can be to get back on track after disruptive trilling. Rant over. Congratulations to the cast for recovering well.
Directed by Peter Nunan and produced by Sue Nichols, the play is dominated by the cleaning lady, Mrs Piper, played with superb comic timing by Victoria Liechti, delivering her well-written lines with malapropisms aplenty. She and Detective Superintendent Baxter, played by the talented Phil Vivian, have an entwined history which causes discomfort for the policeman with a level of familiarity he resents, as it impacts on his professional status and efficacy. This provides a huge amount of opportunity for comedy, which is exploited to the full and is enhanced by the comfortable chemistry between the actors.
Other roles of the detective constable, managing director, colleague, wife and secretaries are played respectively by Chris Meineck, Mark Andrews, John Sivewright, Jenni French, Mary Almeida and Rosie Hodgkinson, who all produce sterling performances.
Set, costumes and hairstyles are straight out of the era of the 1960s, where the play is placed. This was assisted by collaboration with Bournemouth Vintage Emporium. The simplicity of the one set, placed in a private office high up in a block of London offices, ensures that the audience is not distracted by numerous scene changes. That’s just as well, because with the twists, turns and clues scattered throughout the performance, you need to pay close attention and focus if you are hoping to solve this comic murder mystery case.
Future performances: 23 and 24 June at 7.30.