2013 – The Mystery Of Edwin Drood

Extravagant, eccentric, and unpredictable
Northumberland Gazette – March 2013.

This was Alnwick Stage Musical Society’s opening night performance of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

And you wouldn’t want it to be anything else.

Because this humour-packed and fun-filled Dickensian whodunnit was entertaining from start to finish, with catchy, toe-tapping songs throughout.

Perhaps the only mystery left at the end was why the Society hasn’t performed this show before now.

Admittedly it was a brave move. Rupert Holmes’ re-working of Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel as a riotous music-hall comedy incorporates a play within a play. And it probably isn’t a show that many people have heard of. On top of this, its climax is decided by the audience.

That’s right, after Edwin Drood disappears on Christmas Eve, it is up to those watching to play detective and decide how the play ends, creating an additional frisson for both actors and those in the auditorium.

It’s quirky. And it works. And if we examine the evidence as to why Tuesday’s show was a real success, then exhibit A is undoubtedly the cast.

All those on stage oozed much-needed energy and exuberance. There were some really good performances here.

Some of those to shine included Dave Penny (William Cartwright, chairman) who was excellent in the narrator-type role and built a good rapport with the audience – really important in this particular play.

Anthony Stoker’s portrayal of John Jasper was top-notch while Sarah Brookes captured the innocence of Rosa Bud. But the night belonged to Lynne Lambert, who shone as Princess Puffer. Her show-stealing performance earned her a standing ovation from some in the audience.

The costumes were in keeping with the period, there were some nice dance routines and the songs were handled well on the whole.

So who was behind Drood’s disappearance on the opening night? Well that was….

James Willoughby.

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