Photos – Prudence Upton

As Noel Coward wrote:

Why must the show go on?
It can't be all that indispensable,
To me it really isn't sensible

Because you have read
Some idiot has said,
'The Curtain must go up'!

Why must the show go on?
The rule is surely not immutable,
It might be wiser and more suitable
Just to close.

But wisdom does not prevail on the opening night of director-writer Shane Tweed’s new murder mystery, Midnight Murder at Hamlington Hall presented by am-dram theatre group, Middling Cove Players.

When seven of the company’s cast are cut down with Covid, two hours before curtain up, Tweed, wedded to the long tradition of ‘the show must go on’, determines to present the play with the two remaining actors, himself and the stage manager.

The first act is a set up of the situation and the surviving stage characters, an amusing exposition full of ripe characterisation and zinger lines.

The second act is the execution of the show within the show. Appropriately introduced by Edwin Astley’s tune, Highwire, the play within the play cascades into a convulsive and inexhaustible tirade of production catastrophes, miscues, prop malfunctions, wardrobe clangers, and more, which triggers an audience response of a torrent of fits and giggles, guffaws and titters, and an eternal sunshine of smiles.

Midnight Murder at Hamlington Hall gleefully ascends into pure farce, wild and liberated. To sustain anarchic humour for a full evening is one of the hardest things a playwright, a director and a cast can attempt, a single lapse can unravel the tight knit chaos. No such lapse is allowed here. The pace is unrelenting.

The cast is excellent. Ariadne Sgouros shines as Karen, the no nonsense newby to the theatrical scene serving out her community service hours as a Stage Manager. Eloise Snape perfect as Phillipa, resident theatre Prima Donna. Sam O’Sullivan brilliantly trying to be unfazed as the frazzled and frustrated Shane Tweed. And Jamie Oxenbould employing his expert timing as the veteran am-dram thesp, Barney, a sublime comedy creation.

Written by Mark Kilmurry and Jamie Oxenbould, directed by KilmurryMidnight Murder at Hamlington Hall is Ensemble Theatre’s early Christmas gift to Sydney audiences, a laugh a minute farce where everything that possibly can go wrong does go uproariously wrong and that’s what makes it so riotously right.

Event details

Ensemble Theatre presents
Midnight Murder at Hamlington Hall
by Mark Kilmurry and Jamie Oxenbould

Director Mark Kilmurry

Venue: Ensemble Theatre | McDougall Street, Kirribilli NSW
Dates: 1 Dec 2023 – 14 Jan 2024

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