Murder In The Studio

Maskers Theatre Company Maskers Studio, Shirley, Southampton David A Putley 20 May 2024

Just to state from the outset, I really enjoyed these 3 plays as presented by a sterling cast of 17, each delivering a very believable scenario. All are to be congratulated on a cohesive and ultimately very entertaining evening.

The nature of the production means I cannot elaborate too much on individual performances for fear of perhaps “spoilers” for people already having booked and those I would encourage to book! So this review is slightly shorter for that reason, but no less a reflection on the quality entertainment provided.

The word “killing” stands out particularly for me: in fact, the whole of that segment from the speech of the wife who fills her life with buying things to make up for her husband’s philandering to the quite horrifying “Esther” revelation had this reviewer on the edge of his seat. I liked how an elegantly dressed Fay was removed from the authentic set of microphones (such attention to detail throughout) emphasising her perhaps ethereal presence and the pronunciation of Pauline (‘line’ not ‘lean’). All the accents were very well done with excellent diction throughout, especially as some cast played multiple roles throughout the 3 plays. It is interesting to realise that the “telephone” played just as prominent a place in people’s lives way back, realising it is not just a current phenomenon.

I can talk about Rob Iliffe being a perfect Poirot; his accent was so good and not the least “Allo Allo” in any respect. He brought the character to life so well, you didn’t need the trademark moustache although the use of the cane was a nice touch despite being unseen by the supposed listening audience.

In fact, all the cast were at the top of their game. The odd twirling of beads, a fiddle with a glove, an adjustment of the tie, all were so subtle but brilliant.

Directed with flair by Anna Hussey and Jenni Prior, each play has you hooked from the start. Whilst Personal Call had an ambiguous ending, the other two had a start and an end that were very satisfying. I liked the basic costume by Clare Britton and Lucy Lockyer of essentially black and white with then added period pieces be it jewellery or an apron, headset, or jacket just to please a watching audience. It also made it clear this was a radio performance made in the time of the settings.

Lighting and set design fully complimented everything that was happening on stage.

The other fascinating aspect was watching how all the sounds were done. The rattle of a cup, and pouring of tea were spot on and so professionally done. Combined with excellent sound effects (the train particularly) it was clear the team had great fun in assembling all the required elements including the sound of a lock being turned and background chatter. I am so glad that was visual for everyone to see how that coordinated with the lines read by the characters.

If you like your murder mystery this is a perfect way to enjoy this continued fascination of the macabre. I would go so far as to say “more please”.  Murder in the Studio plays until Saturday May 25th