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Wilde murder mystery in Colyton

PUBLISHED: 18:30 27 May 2013

Stephen Knight as Lord Arthur Savile, with Angela Parry as Lady Windermere (left) and Debbie Meakin as his fiancée Sybil Merton.

Stephen Knight as Lord Arthur Savile, with Angela Parry as Lady Windermere (left) and Debbie Meakin as his fiancée Sybil Merton.


COMBINING the wonderful wit of Oscar Wilde with sumptuous costumes and a talented cast, Colyton Theatre Group is busy rehearsing Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, which opens at Colyton Town Hall in June.

Directing this latest production is Margaret Smith, from Seaton, a member of CTG for 22 years, who is excited about working with such an enthusiastic cast.

She said: “It is going to be sensational. Everyone is putting in an unbelievable amount of work and the audience can be well assured of a stimulating and exciting murder mystery. The plot only but thickens as it develops.”

Written by Wilde in 1887, and set in aristocratic 1890s London, Margaret, with assistant director Enid Perry, has drawn on some well-established names to perform, including Jeff Hutchinson as the butler, Baines, Angela Parry as Lady Windermere, popular David Clarke as The Dean of Paddington and stalwart Simon Ford, who is Mr Podgers, a chiromantist, who in July will direct Shute Theatre and Arts Guild’s production A Servant to Two Masters.

Aged 11, Jeff made his stage debut as Peter Pan and has frequently occupied the stage of CTG in various roles, from villain to Dame in the annual pantomime.

Former primary teacher Angela Parry, from Shute, is a member of STAG and recent roles include Barbara in Pack of Lies and Sorel in Hay Fever.

Making his debut with CTG is Stephen Knight, as Lord Arthur Savile. Stephen’s acting career began five years ago after appearing in Seasons Greetings in Tipton St John. After that he was hooked, subsequently appearing in plays and pantomimes in Sidmouth, Colaton Raleigh, Newton Poppleford and, most recently, in Local Affairs in Lyme Regis.

Award-winning Alison Stenning takes a pivotal role as the anarchist Frau Winkelkopf, while Tish Wells is looking forward to the challenge of playing the doddery Lady Clementine Beauchamp.

Sandra Henson, who produced her own musical version of Great Expectations for the Carnival Show, takes the part of Nellie the kitchen maid.

David Clarke and Simon Ford need no introduction to the Colyton stage. As well as acting, David is an accomplished director and playwright too, while Simon has played numerous roles in local productions.

Margaret said: “The play opens with Lord Arthur preparing to marry his sweetheart Sybil Merton (Debbie Meakin). But Lady Julia, (Cynthia Bell), his mother-in-law to be, wishing to make quite sure he is a suitable person to marry her daughter, engages Mr Podgers, a fortune teller, to find out if has committed any awful misdemeanours.”

This opens a can of worms, leading Lord Arthur down a trail of murderous intrigue.

“There are so many people, the actors on stage and the unsung heroes behind the scenes, who have worked so hard to give the audience a night out to remember,” said Margaret, who described the audience as “the final piece of the jigsaw” that allows the play to go ahead.

Opening night is Wednesday, June 12, running until Saturday, June 15, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8, (£4 for under-16s), available now from Buddens the Chemist and The Little Shop, Colyton, Pennys Estate Agents, Seaton, Busy Bee Florist, Axminster and Emily’s Chocolates, Sidmouth.

Margaret, who hopes for a sell-out show, added: “As a community we have got to support these local events, otherwise we will lose such a vital community function.”

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