Alan Ayckbourn's 1980s "comedy thriller" is set in a rotting country pile where the only person in the family with any money is composer Mortimer Chalke. The programme even has a couple of pages devoted to the score of his latest work Parametric Revelations. Plus his "explanation" of what the work is about. Sample quote "My new piece mirrors life in all its manifestations. It is based around the parameters of the 12-tone system; as the parameters continue to combine, collide, reverse and shift...". Having seen the production of this play that was unknown to me, I should think it was a pretty good description of the plot.
Formerly the Timothy White and Taylor's Young Composer of the Year 1966, Mortimer the melodramatic musician played by David Pitchford, having inherited all of his parent's money and estate despite having other siblings, rules the house with a rod of temperamental iron.
Directed by Joan Scarsbrook-Bird, the action takes place on a very solid set occupying the whole width of the theatre's acting area. Well furnished with old furniture and knickknacks, it was comfy with lots of lamps.
Opening with Mortimer "playing" his piano work with loads of those agonised expressions many people think all pianists use when performing in public. Boredom reigns among his listening, quarrelsome relations. Apart from bolshie teenager Amy played effectively by Candy Lillywhite-Taylor complete with headphones. Headphones? In 1983? Mind you she did do some very useful crying later on.
Mortimer's brother Brinton, an angry artist played by Barry Howlett, who's absolutely at loggerheads with him; they rowed continually about repairs to the house and Mortimer's meanness with money.
Also involved in the mayhem were Janet Oliver as Jocelyn a would-be writer, James Biddles as Norris a claims investigator who fancies himself as a detective yet is unable to solve a crime and Vikki Luck as Wendy, a face from the past.
Misunderstandings galore, some accidental, some deliberate including the attempted murder could have done with more pace and energy instead of patchiness
It puzzled me that in a play with so much emphasis on music why the director didn't use music to cover the sometimes rather lengthy scene changes, but the sound effects especially of the thunder were great.
It did strike me that maybe this play was Ayckbourn's idea of a theatrical joke.
4 April 2015