Josh Beasley was the undoubted star of the show as Morpeth St George’s Community Players performed their spring offering Hello…Is There Any Body There? in the church hall last week.
Billed as a farce/murder mystery and produced by David Swinton, the actors had wrestled nobly with Ian Hornby’s ordinary script, but the writer then pulls off a masterstroke as he introduces a double role for one actor — first as Vic Tim, then DC Fickey.
And in the latter, a Basil Fawlty/Pike-type Dad’s Army character, is precisely where Beasley not only came into his own, but took the play up a few notches.
His exuberant, full of beans and outstandingly funny antics were not only immaculately delivered, but also had the audience in stitches. Another plus for the writer was engaging the cast with the audience, almost pantomimesque, which attracted a few oohs and aahs.
Community Players Chairman Jared Johnson said in his programme notes that due to a combination of illnesses, holidays and other unforeseen circumstances, full cast rehearsals had been the exception, rather than the norm.
Given that, the remaining characters in the cast deserve maximum credit — Sue Elliott as Lady Amelia Simpson-Squire; Robin Herron as Freddy Lyons; Carmel Adamson as Mabel; Bridget Rowbottom as Inspector Dianne Sides; Lara Simpson as WPC Nunnall; Jared Johnson as Smalls the butler; and Anne Marie Cairns as Miss Marbles.
And even on opening night David Kiely as Sir Malcolm Squire carried out the old adage that the show must go on, despite struggling with a heavy nosebleed.