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Ballarat National Theatre

suspect slash

 

Production Dates

September 25th to October 2nd 2010

Synopsis

“A tale of comic predicament and mistaken identity unfurls with real wit and style”Home-decorator falls to death from third floor window’. Tragic yes, but surely just a straight forward case of accidental death? Eager young Detective Sergeant Goss certainly thinks so but the old warhorse Detective Inspector Tindall has his doubts. If he is right who are the ‘SUSPECTS’?

Giles Cole sets his intriguing tale of plot and counter-plot in a suburban third floor apartment in the 1980’s when police procedure had not yet reached the electronic age!

 

Cast

John Daykin
Fred Fargher
Paul Ford
Emil Freund
Neil Furdem
Pamela Maiden
Peppa Sindar

Crew

Director Julian Oldfield
Stage Manager Meg Ford

Gallery

Breath Of Springloves44
Suspects 2
Suspects 3

Review - Suspects

Reviewer: Gail Sjogren

WHO KILLED THE HANDYMAN?
Whodunits are always popular, witness the number we see on television, but it is a while since we have had a really good brainteasing whodunit on the local stage. For those pining for the genre, “Suspects” will provide a very satisfying fix!

Is it a case of accidental death when a home decorator falls from his third floor window or is the explanation rather more sinister? Set in the 1980’s, before the electronic age, when police had to rely on good old gut feeling and detection, the plot twists and turns constantly, keeping the audience intrigued until the final scene when all is made clear by wily old Detective Inspector Tindall, played with suitably gruff and forceful presence by Fred Fargher in a very welcome return to the National Theatre stage.

Pamela Maiden is the x-wife and Peppa Sindar the current wife of the unfortunate home decorator. Their contrasting characters are beautifully developed and provide both dramatic and humorous moments. Emile Freund as naïve Detective Sergeant Goss is a perfect foil for the Inspector and John Daykin is – well, I will let you find that out for yourselves!

The play is set in an upstairs flat, much in need of decoration, and takes place over four days as the truth of what has happened gradually unfolds. As in all good whodunits, the perpetrators are uncovered and justice is upheld.
Directed by Julian Oldfield, “Suspects” will entertain you and keep you guessing. There is something very satisfying about a live stage performance, something that the slickest TV drama cannot match. Go along and see if you can work out what has happened before the inspector does. I wish you luck!

Review by Richard Burman

– October 2, 2010 THEATRECRAFT - the magazine of the Victorian Drama League

Suspects is classified in many quarters as a thriller. I would classify it more as a suspense play as the author, Giles Cole, plays cat and mouse with his audience all the way through, and especially in the second half of the play. There are so many surprising twists to the story which the audience at the performance by Ballarat National Theatre that I attended followed in a silent concentration broken only by an occasional quiet response when the plot turned in an unexpected way.

The action of the play takes place in the living room of the third floor flat occupied by Mike Stacey, played by Neil Furdem, and his second wife, Ellen, played by Peppa Sindar. The body of a man who has fallen from the window of the Stacey’s flat is discovered which identified by some as Mike and by others as not Mike. And so we have the setting for the suspense.

The role of Ellen is a demanding one as she is on the stage for most of the play, upset and being organised by others and badgered by the police. Peppa Sindar made a good attempt at Ellen but I found her just a bit two-dimensional. We needed to see a little more cunning portrayed in the character to make the climax at the end fully believable.
Mike’s first wife, Liz, who unexpectedly arrives on the scene, was played with great style by Pam Maiden. This was a rounded performance giving the audience a woman of confidence in contrast to Ellen. Pam conveyed the manipulative side of Liz very clearly.
Like most of the roles in this play the insurance salesman, Allen Fisher, is not what he appears on the surface when we first meet him. John Daykin cleverly displayed the two sides of Fisher’s character.

The detectives in the play were Inspector Tindall (Fred Fargher) and Sergeant Goss (Emile Freund). Goss is the sidekick to Tindall and also provides the light relief to the suspense. Emile seemed to me to be a little young for the role of a detective sergeant but he certainly made the most of all the opportunities the author gave him for moments of comedy in his relationship with this superior.

Fred Fargher’s Tindall took charge of the proceedings from his first entrance at the same time showing us that Tindall’s career was not all squeaky clean. This was a very assured performance which was only marred for me by a tendency on odd occasions for a more melodramatic sudden movement or gesture. Paul Ford completed the cast as a sturdy Constable McBride.

As well as directing the play Julian Oldfield also designed the setting. This was a basic set but perfectly suited to and furnished and dressed for a third-floor flat with large windows at the back. The lighting and effects were, like the set, basic but effective and right on cue. Like many of our member companies Ballarat has to bump in and convert premises into a theatre which they did very effectively. A warm welcome was given us on our arrival by the front of house staff. The trip to Ballarat was well worthwhile to see a well-rehearsed production of a suspense play.