Review: Secondary Cause of Murder, Eppic Theatre

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The titular explanation following Inspector Pratt’s amateur autopsy for body number one is typical of the bumbling policeman’s inane outbursts in this successful farcical whodunit from the pen of Peter Gordon.

Carol Travis draws good performances from all her players in this fast moving comedy.

Tom Travis steals the show as Inspector Pratt who utters more malapropisms than Sheridan’s heroine herself. He thinks he is the ‘lunch pin’ of the operation and worries about Colonel Craddock’s brain haemorrhoids.

As a clever twist, Cynthia Maple organises a murder mystery game so we have a play within a play. Maple is wonderfully played by Val Baggett. She looks genuinely incredulous when someone dares suggest not carrying on the game despite a real murder having occurred. She gets one of the best lines. On hearing of his demise, “Cardew Longfellow died on stage many times. It’s about time he did it convincingly.”

Without giving too much away, bodies start mounting and everyone is a suspect.

Wendy Martin puts in a calm and assured performance with a little seduction thrown in as Lady Isadora Pollock. Ed Cox relishes playing the outrageous goose-stepping Nazi double agent. Marie Birks has a wheeze as the “tewwibly posh” Captain Henrietta. Ray Thompson is Colonel Craddock and his spitting image, Cardew Longfellow.

Les Bell has built a marvellous set for this 1939 converted hotel and cleverly allows Ray Thompson, who plays two parts, to disappear into thin air at one point. Angela Platt’s costumes also add an air of authenticity.

Stephen Grigg