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The Return of Inspector Garbutt

St Andrews certainly gave us food for thought in more ways than one.  The Jubilee Fantasia set sail, and the Captain was murdered – so all we had to do was find the murderer during the course of the evening, taking note of the many and various clues.

The audience were also provided with a very nice buffet during the interval!  Well done again to Pam and Rodney Mills.

Terry Mills with assistance from Val Mills had again written a fun show, with lost of twists and turns – there were a few drops in pace where words were not always forthcoming – but no matter, we got there in the end.

The cruise feel started directly we walked in the door, when we were greeted by members of the Entertainment Crew, had photos taken with the Captain, and were accosted by other so-called guests, who later had a role to play in the outcome.  I liked the way they kept up their production persona whatever the questions they were asked.

It was nice piece of escapism for a drear night – with plenty of energy and jollity – plus some anger thrown in from various crew members and passengers.  Lots of red herrings, and some decent music.  Margaret Jeeves and her band gave us some lively and also really harmonious accompaniments which made it a pleasure to listen to.

The scene was set on board the ship – which created a seamless show, with just a short blackout to define when we were going back to see the actual event that the witnesses were talking about.

A hirsute and elegant Mr Roy Hall played the part of the Captain, and I am pleased to have a photo with him for posterity, as that was the only time we saw him, his murder taking place at the beginning of the show.

I liked the opening number, and subsequent song and dance number from the Entertainment girls and boys, - a butch and angry young man played by Andrew Alton and a rather camp young man played by Jonny Mills – both good characterisations and good contrasts.  Jonny can be relied upon to wring humour out of any situation.  The girls, Jo Harris, Jo Yirrell, Sally Annis and Natasha Woolfe, looked lovely in their pink spotted skirts, with extreme but stunning hairdo's – and they performed really well, showing first-rate dance talent with very good choreography from Jo Harris – the tap number was extremely accomplished, and good to see Andrew and Jonny joining in with enthusiasm and skill.

It really was a motley crew – from very ebullient sailors with broad South American accents, to more reticent very English ladies – and it appeared that nearly all the ladies had been involved with the Captain in one way and another, and he had fathered a number of children, who also all appeared to be on board the ship, so plenty of confusion to solving the plot!

The costumes were very well-thought out – the whites for the officers looked really smart, the dancers were very colourful, and the stewards looked good in their waistcoats, which were also echoed in the table waitresses.  

I thought Frances Hall, as Sybil (the wife of Inspector Garbutt - played by Steve Peters), looked absolutely lovely, and acted the part of the slightly interfering and definitely very interested and observant passenger very well.  

Steve gave the Inspector gravitas, but also showed that he was sometimes perplexed by the turn of events, until Sybil kindly pointed him in the right direction.  This pair created a very believable relationship amongst the other rather OTT crew members!

There were lively and lovely musical moments – I particularly liked Jo Yirrell's contribution, and the accompaniment to her solo was really beautiful.  Top marks to Margaret Jeeves for creating some lovely sounds, and nicely accompanied by Nigel Emerton on guitar and Rick Philpott on drums.

Stephen Ford as the Cruise Director was a surprise to me – he looked very suave and elegant and acted the part well.

Karen Franks, Emma Mills, Mickie Paola and Valerie Mills made up the rest of the crew – and gave us contrasting characters, who again could all have been guilty of the murder!

The passengers played by Barbara Storey as the Captain's ex-wife, and Sharon Robinson as her companion, created colourful characters, that showed the contrast between the type of people they were.

Jan Robinson and Imelda Sells were the Casino Manager and Bar Manager respectively – and although a little less emphatic than some of the other portrayals, they created nice characters.

The trio of young ladies who were waitresses and stewards Lizzie Fretwell, Abbie Mead and Alaina Chick interacted well, and I thought Abbi Mead sang a difficult song with feeling.

Jordan Stowe only had a short piece of dialogue, but he showed great expression and understanding of the situation he was in, having lied to the Inspector and then being found out.

I thought Dale Stacey (Maitre de) and David Mills (Chief Officer) were a little too OTT with their accents – and at first I was sure there was some sort of clue in the fact that they were both South American, both limped and both wore the same uniform, but as time went on it became apparent they weren't the culprits, although on another night they might have been!!

John Bright did a good act as comic Les Bowen – some funny ‘old’ jokes that still have the ability to make us laugh.

This was never going to be an evening of high drama – but it was a pleasant interlude with some nice performances, cheery music and enough intrigue to keep us guessing almost until the end.  A fun and entertaining ensemble piece with interesting performances.  

St. Andrew’s Players

The Return of Inspector Garbutt

review date: 7TH November 2012

Stopsley High School, Luton

Director: Terry Mills  Devised by: Terry & Val Mills Choreographer: Jo Harris

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