It takes experience to tackle a play as multi-layered as Audience With Murder, but fortunately, experience is something the Banbury Cross Players have in spades. Founded over 70 years ago, this local drama group puts on four plays each year, as well as participating in drama festivals across Oxfordshire.
Audience With Murder featured just four of the Players in acting roles, although other members of the group were present as front-of-house and stagehands, appearing with stretchers to carry off the bodies (yes, plural) that had mounted up by the end of Act One. This first act featured Philip Fine, Tara Lacey, Kate Groves and Theo Cumming as a married couple and their two guests, reading through a play written by Sue (Lacey), the long-suffering wife of the spectacularly horrible Alan (Fine). Kelly (
That's Act One. But in Act Two, things shift drastically, and the actors' ranges and versatility come to the fore as Eastenders gives way to Inside No. 9. Too much description would spoil the fun, but I could feel a buzz in the audience throughout the second act as the storyline unfolded, accompanied by frequent laughter - sometimes hearty, and sometimes nervous.
Audience With Murder is an ambitious play, but Banbury Cross Players carried it off with panache, dealing with the metafictional aspects of the storyline without losing the edge of comedy that ran through the performance. If you like murder mysteries with more twists than a corkscrew, head down to the Mill Arts Centre before the end of the run. Just be sure to keep an eye on your glass!