In the calm seaside breeze, an inexplicable killing event breaks the evening sleepiness and drags you into a hilarious horror mystery invited by the multi-award-winning theatre company New Old Friends. Inspired by detective writers such as Agatha Christie, Noel Coward and PG Wodehouse, this is a thriller filled with humour and magic directed by James Farrell.
We are introduced to the story by our narrator of the play, a famous female detective who self-proclaims to be the 'detective father’. As the quaint admission music foreshadows, the story takes place at a secluded island hotel just off the English coast in 1936. Where lived some interesting but weird guests. under the seemingly calm vacation conceals some complex relationships and tension. Along with the bizarre death of the famous actor Abigail, the female detective volunteered herself and, behind the investigation of the police, tried to dispel the layers of fog and found the real murderer among the eight suspects.
The comic atmosphere was set immediately as the detective entered; a series of unique yet easily understood jokes were spread across the show, keeping the audience engaged and constantly amused at all times. Repeated harmony of the three random characters and the recall to an over-exaggerated murder story are threaded throughout the show, heightening the audience's sense of hilarity. Alongside, I found the plot exceedingly interesting as the director uses the detective to lead us through the mystery of the murder, gradually letting us discover the truth of the matter from her perspective.
Having only four actors playing multiple outrageous roles was a brave decision as this challenges actor’s live performance skills. Personally, I think the New Old Friends did a remarkable job. Especially in the section of the three policemen played by the same actress at the same time, it was phenomenal. The variation between the tone of voice and physicality depicts the different character traits extremely well. The tempo and breath controlled skilfully by her which leads the audience to a burst of uncontrolled laughter whilst still conveying clear dialogue.
Another highlight was the hilarious dance choreographed for the song ‘Holiday in the Sun’ which the actors sung. Silly movements with their exaggerated facial expressions made me unable to take my focus off them at any point.
The costumes play a crucial part in this show, especially at the final climax. The staging is used cleverly here: cloth stands are suddenly dragged out and fixed on stage props, which are used by actors to switch between multiple characters on stage. The deliberate rushing between these role switch creates a huge comedic effect, with the whole theatre shaking with the audience’s laughter.
As a comedy thriller, the Crime on the Coast fulfils the classic elements of mystery comedy at all points. It's a fantastic production supported by the actors' strong abilities, taking the audience into a joyful and unforgettable ‘Holiday in the Sun’.
Article by BOA Student Manlin, as part of our ORT Report scheme