Technical Crew Details:
Christopher J C Argles
Reviewed by Theo Spring for The Croydon Advertiser
It’s one thing to opt for one of David Tristram’s Inspector Drake plays where the one-liners are fired off in very rapid succession, it’s another thing to gather a cast which can cope and not “corpse”.
In Chris Blakeney and Luke Argles, Theatre Workshop found the perfect pair as Plod and Drake respectively.
The plot is off-the-wall – literally, as the murder the famous detective is called in to solve starts with suppositions around the line showing how the body of the dead professor lay – but this line is on the wall. This defies explanation from police pathologist Jack, given a heavy Brummie accent by Richard Lloyd.
The jokes fall thick and fast. “A good murder never hurt anybody” and they continue in that pantomime vein. Some are visual, like Drake’s cleverly-accomplished entrance as the stuck door bursts open on the hinge side, yet reverts to its correct opening for later users. The build-up for the punch line about a telephone call is excruciating as Drake uses a hairdryer to waft away Plod’s “bad air” and then takes a call on it – working towards “getting on the blower”.
The plot is further confused by an ancient cat-loving maid (Vanessa Buck), the butt of one of the sicker jokes.
The set boasts a perspective garden backdrop and a splendid replica Tardis which would have easily fooled Dr Who.
Act 2 is set in the thirtieth century where we meet wonderfully-dressed aliens Elii, Maki and Luni the robot of the Madonna-like pointed basque. Tall Mike Brown was in charge as Elii, Penny Payne his chief assistant Maki and Nancy Jane Maun the repetitive robot.
Lisa Lloyd gives Drake the come-on in both centuries, first as Duck, friend of the dead professor’s daughter, then as her own granddaughter who is High Priestess on the Zircon Space Cruiser. Her aim is to invade Earth because their planet is dying and they need the “manhood” of earthlings to help the Zircons survive.
Director Chris Argles’ production maintained a galloping pace, where laughter was constant and the standard high.