The Case Of The Frightened Lady – Review

Miracle Theatre Company
reviewed by Jenni Balow

Never mind the Frightened Lady, what about the hysterical audience that had tears streaming down its cheeks, with screams of laughter, as the incomparable team from Miracle returned to the Minack stage this week.

The Redruth-based company is 35 years old and has produced a splendid newspaper style programme to celebrate the anniversary as it revives one of its best-loved plays.

The same actors who won the Minack Trophy for best production eight years ago return with this play written and directed by Bill Scott, and just as the dew rises, they are in clover and loving every hilarious minute with fans old and new.

Why the preoccupation with grassy things? Well, the play opens with a gardener trundling a petrol driven mower over a neatly manicured lawn outside author Edgar Wallace’s study. Who else but Miracle would think of doing that?

Then the action cuts to a tight deadline, as Wallace (Benjamin Dyson) sets about devising the who-dunnit plot for a manuscript that is due to reach his publisher by the next morning.

He is aided and abetted by his wife (Rosie Hughes) new secretary (Jo Bowis) butler (Dominic Power) and gardener (Tom Adams) who also double-up in other roles as required by the multi murder mystery.
The 1930s set designed and built by Alan Munden, is as cosy and homespun as you can get on the side of a cliff, with upright piano, hatstand, old fashioned typewriter, carpet and chintzy (detachable) curtains, as well as an ingeniously constructed tea trolley that converts to a car.The study lamp standard also serves as a microphone for bursts of song and music aptly devised by Jim Carey.

The actors, dressed by Jude Munden, fit in like an old pair of slippers, totally in character, but alert to the tiniest possibility of extracting yet more laughter from an already brilliant script with echoes from the BBC’s I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue.

As the Inspector speculates on what one of the victim’s antecedents were, his side-kick Tottie replies:”I noticed that he wasn’t wearing any”. There’s plenty of that.

In her role as Miss Gilder, the housekeeper, Jo Bowis sets the bar for eccentric characterisation, with facial expressions and mannerisms that are so good, they are mimmicked by the rest of the team – how’s that for approval.

They all give vintage performances in this unique comedy packed full of fun and foolery, and even the mower starts on cue as the gardener goes off into the sunset…… and the dew starts to rise.