(Honorary Patron: Vanessa Redgrave CBE)

A Tomb With A View


by Norman Robbins
Review by our local NODA representative

A Tomb with a View
Group: The Grayshott Stagers
Production: A Tomb with a View
Director: Andrew Boughton
Venue: Grayshott Village Hall
Date: Saturday 23rd November, 2019

The Production

The large, eccentric, problemed, and positively dangerous Tomb family, ensconced in their Gothic mansion, have recently lost their millionaire father, and are all agog to hear the reading of the will, to see who gets how much of the loot. Not only the family members are hopeful, there is also the housekeeper, the nurse, and last but not least, the long-standing family solicitor. Then along come two hopeful strangers, to add to the resentment and confusion. Surprises ensue, corpses abound, chaos reigns, and it's all rather scary!

Venue Ambience and Front of House

The villagers of Grayshott are very lucky to have such a charming village hall, with its impressive beamed roof. The bar is a cosy space, the welcome is very warm, people linger and chat. A great venue!

The Programme

The marvellous front cover design by Peter Budd, which was full of foreboding and blood-dripping lettering, gave us to understand full well what we were in for! A good Director's Note put us in the picture, and there were interesting cast profiles.

Scenery/Set/Props

There were oohs and ahs as the curtain rose onto the lovely set - a large gothic library with lovely wallpaper between the (oddly empty!) bookshelves. Rather wonderful furniture, of course, and a large family portrait of the dreaded, newly deceased Pa, completed the scene. Later a swivelling door aided the dastardly action. Guns, knives, a meat cleaver, even a severed head, all came into play, with a couple of sinister carafes too, and a bowl of delicious looking apples.

Lighting and Sound

Lighting of course was important in such a horror story. There were storms, power cuts, and various dramatic incidents where the lighting was used very effectively. Blood curdling sounds, a wolf's howling, bangs crashes, all added to the action. Very well done indeed! Very amusing.

Makeup/Hair/Costumes

Costumes were delightful. 1920s gowns and headdresses, long cigarette holders, all delighted the eye, what an elegant age! The solicitor in tailcoat and elegant waistcoat, the oldest son in natty tweeds, the housekeeper in a super long working dress, the nurse dressed properly as nurses used to be (when I was young!). And then poor deluded Marcus, in full Julius Caesar kit, complete with Roman arm adornments and laurel wreath.

The Production

This was a great play to choose for an autumn production, as the plot had so many twists and turns, and kept up the suspense and surprises right to the end. There were far more corpses even than in a Midsomer Murders, and there was a great deal of humour too. The cast did a grand job of creating a spooky atmosphere, great casting from director Andrew Boughton, great characterisation.

Hamilton Penworthy (David Gow) was the lugubrious solicitor, slow of delivery, weighing his words, full of self-importance in his tailcoat. Lucien Tomb (Eric Collins) was the impatient eldest son, just wanting to get on to the will-reading to find out that, in his hopes, he would get the bulk of Father's fortune. Dora Tomb (Jennifer Charters) was full of scared innocence, on the one hand, and glee, on the other, as she plotted in which part of the flower border she should bury her next victim, that she had poisoned with her herbal lotions and potions. A very good performance this. Emily Tomb (Linette Ackroyd) was also an impatient sister, always munching on apples, plain-speaking, standing no nonsense from her siblings. Marcus Tomb, (Paul Bailey), our rather loveable yet totally insane Roman, always quoting from Julius Caesar.

He was constantly accompanied by Nurse Anne (Caroline Thompson), a calming and real-world presence (or was she? This was the joy of the play, you never knew who might turn out to be a villain!) Whereas the arrival on the scene of Agatha (Kathy Le Fanu), the old retainer cook/housekeeper, often clutching a meat cleaver, always both upped the tension, and created the laughter - a wonderful performance here.

The two visitors came upon this strange and frightening household, not knowing really why they had been invited. Freda did not last long, but her companion Peregrine Potter (Tony Carpenter) got into all kinds of bizarre situations, and was played with great skill by Tony - scared, then practical, then desperate, we felt for him!

Last but not least, we met the slinky Monica Tomb (Brezetta Thonger), quite the vamp with her gorgeous gowns and long cigarette holder. Man mad she was too, as poor Peregrine soon discovered!

Great characters each and every one, all credit to the cast and director for that. This must have been great fun to put on, the audience loved every minute of it, it was so funny, and the suspense was held to the very end. As I said, JUST the right kind of jolly evening for a dank, dark November evening!

Pauline Surrey




The set

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