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Curtain Up On Murder - Review

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
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Whodunnit, Whydunnit, Whendunnit
Ellenbrook Theatre Company is a relative newcomer to Perth's community theatre family, but have put on some notable shows in the course of their short life.

Their latest production is Curtain Up on Murder, a comedy drama of a theater company within a theatre.

Sylvia (Kira Pearce) and Harry (Richard Hadler) in rehearsal. (Photograph courtesy of Elembrook Theatre Company)

Directed by Harrison MacLennan, as his first venture into directing, Curtain Up For Murder is an evocation of the past. Although written in 1998, the play is deeply reminiscent of the dramas we all enjoyed when put on by amateur companies in the sixties.

Maclennan has directed the company, ably assisted by Ryan Marano, in a tight, fast-paced production despite the varying degrees of experience in the actors.

The acting is of that slightly exaggerated, slightly stilted variety so familiar to those of us who can remember where we were when Kennedy was shot. This all helps with the period of the play, which is set sometime in the fifties.

The play's plot is deceptively simple - two of the acting company, Alex (Joshua Ericson, Brylcreemed to within an inch of his life) and Syliva (the voluptuous Kira Pearce) are deeply in love, although she is married to Martin (Andrew Hemstock in a cravat and pipe) and he is in a relationship with Linda (Chantelle Pitt, displaying a compelling presence on stage.)

Two young helpers Sandra (Cecilia Allen in a lovely flouncy long skirt) and Ginny (Hayley Derwort, uncharacteristicly demure) arrive at the end of pier theatre to rehearse and lay out the premise for the audience chatting to a lunatic caretaker with a deep Zummurzet accent and missing teeth (Richard Hadler).

The rest follow and the first body hits the stage halfway through the first act, followed in quick order by most of the rest of the cast.

The cast clearly had a wonderful time rehearsing and that sense of fun and enjoyment carries over to the performance and easily communicates itself to the audience who also had a damn good time.

My congratulations to all concerned from the wardrobe, which was superb, make-up, set and lights as well as the direction and acting.

A most enjoyable evening of theatre.

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Why? A cracking good production
When: 7:00pm
Where: Civic Centre, 100 Main Street, Ellenbrook, WA
Cost: Adults $18, Concession $15
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