By J. Brock (FINN)
Set in a country house in 1923, where oil tycoon John Johnson is found with a huge sword in his back, Inspector Drake and the Black Widow by David Tristram directed by Jason Lewis and produced by Lidda Luxton and Michelle Ward was an excellent evening of entertainment.
Looking obviously like a case of murder, things are never as they seem. Just ask Inspector Drake (Played by Josh Saunders) and Dr Foster (Daniel Clarke).
Why was the victim disguised as his own wife (Eurovision fans take note) and what had he eaten? Lady Devonshire (Andrea Stanworth) said she wanted to kill him&well, why not? Would Wendy the Spider have something to do with it? Or perhaps it was the feather dusting housemaid (Caroline Scott) who whisked Wendy into position? And what did Loolita (Hannah McPhee) and the Zoo Man (Craig Lewis) have to do with Lucky the Cat?
For once, Sergeant Plod (Neil Ward) thinks he has all the answers. And so he should, as he's relating the events through flashbacks, so he knows the outcome. But if Plod is right, the legendary Inspector Drake is about to make a terrible mistake. Add to this the increasing body count, decreasing number of suspects and why do the women look similar? Yet there's something even more distressing.
The trusty Sergeant has been troubled by a recurring nightmare. It's a nightmare involving spiders, and the image of a man, lying dead. That man, Inspector Drake, is this just another confusing flashback or is it the horrible truth of Drake's final destiny? After all, when the Black Widow lays her deadly trap, it's just a matter of time.
Inspector Drake and Sergeant Plod must employ all their wits to solve the case...
Rarely off the stage themselves, the two policemen (Josh Saunders and Neil Ward) were aided and abetted by Miss Marple (Jaqui Bailey) and tracked down by the amorous Amy Mallard (Paula Fowmes).
For me, this was excellent entertainment and the cast should be congratulated for their enthusiasm, wit and ability to make us laugh.
Special mention should be given to Dave and Pam Lewis, Matthew Freer and Mark Brook who built the set and the stage manager, Dave Lewis and crew who manipulated props and quite skilfully, too. Sound and lighting by Adrian Almond, Chris Locke, Jack Burrell added to the creepy atmosphere and plot. Also important and not forgotten are the Prompt, Nancy Locke, Wardrobe mistresses, Ruth Taylor, Theresa Lang, Make-up artist, Michelle Ward, Front of house, John and Louise Birmingham, Jack Burrell and the PTA, who produced the refreshments.