Shadows Of The Past

Shadows Of The Past Rating

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4

Since 1991, Endeavour Theatre Company has been delighting audiences with its community productions. Their latest offering, Shadows Of The Past, a murder mystery written and directed by talented member Clyde Goodenough, exemplifies the best of a small but committed theatre group.

On arrival at the venue, a full house was present, and audience members found a “Guess Who Did It” sheet of paper on their seats to be submitted at intermission. This interactive element added an engaging twist, making the audience feel like active participants in solving the mystery.

The play centres on Mrs Willoughby, an imperious matriarch, who invites her nephew Jonathon, his American fiancée, her solicitor Mason James, a nun with a past with Jonathon, and an eccentric psychic for a weekend of ‘revelations’ and the reading of her will. Adding humour is Musgrove, the old bumbling butler. Amidst a storm, secrets unravel, leading to murder. But who did it? Adding to the Clyde Goodenough Cluedo-like characters are the police sergeant and Inspector, which add to the intrigue in the second act.

The play is set in the Willoughy Hall manor, and the room is replete with ornate couches, fancy paintings on the walls, a roaring fireplace, making it clear we are in a wealthy manorhouse. In addition, there were clever scene changes as we found ourselves in other rooms within the manor. Clever use of lighting to isolate private conversations not overheard by other Willoughby Hall guests enhanced the mysterious ambience. After each scene, the curtains briefly closed with suitably mysterious music playing, giving the audience time to think about what they had seen and ponder what was coming.

Like the best murder mysteries, it is also important to bring the element of fun, and the script delivers enjoyable moments for all cast members. Opening nights are always challenging and exciting, and an opening night for a brand new play, never performed before in front of an audience, is an even higher level of difficulty. Suffice it to say the performances from the ensemble cast got stronger and stronger as the play progressed, which bodes well for a successful production run.

The ensemble cast also navigated the delicate balance of playing exaggerated stereotypes that a murder mystery show requires without falling into caricature. Their understanding of their characters grew stronger as the play progressed, promising even better performances in future shows.

Congratulations to Endeavour Theatre Company and all the cast and crew for putting on an excellent show. This is a fun production with a well-thought-out story and script. While the first act effectively introduced the characters and set the stage, it would have been great to witness a bit more foreshadowing—like subtle hints or a character’s brief slip—that could enhance the suspense and make later revelations even more impactful for the final act.

My personal endeavour to correctly guess the murderer was a dismal disaster! Can you guess the murderer correctly on your visit?

Don’t miss this opportunity to support local community theatre and enjoy a well-crafted, entertaining murder mystery. ‘Shadows Of The Past‘ runs for only two weekends, so be sure to catch it while you can with session times as follows:-
– 19th May 2:30pm
– 25th May 7:30pm
– 26th May 2:30pm

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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