Inspector Drake's Last Case

St Mary's Church Parish Magazine Reveiw


Inspector Drake’s last case, the comedy presented by the talented Victory Players was, in fact, the murder that never was. However, there was plenty of naughty hanky-panky, sexy, goings-on to make up for it. I was advised to drink a couple of glasses of wine before the show, and forewarned: “you’re going to need it!”

The play exaggerated the characters in various hilarious ways: double—entendres, puns, misunderstandings, stupid reactions, and actors falling over and bumping into things. To say nothing of the hidden and sometimes obvious sexual gestures used to confuse the evidence. (Thank goodness I drank my wine!).

The play opened with Sergeant Plod taking the audience into his confidence and explaining his presence in a very ‘allo, allo, allo’ ‘school of policing’ sort of voice and gestures. The excellent actor was Chris Walker who previously took the part of Thomas Cranmer in ‘Man for all Seasons’ — a quite different acting experience.

Equally important, was Jon Hunt, playing the part of Inspector Drake as a very confused police officer, always disagreeing with Sergeant Plod. Everybody tried hard to bewilder him, usually by jiggling the evidence. The best effort was made by Emily Holland, as Alison Duck, who tried to seduce him, to his great embarrassment (or, perhaps delight?)

The person who was supposed to have been murdered was Mrs Gargarin, owner of the house, whose son Victor was keen to get his fingers on the estate. Played by Michael Merger in a splendidly fake-elegant sort of way he constantly objected to being called other names by the Inspector, like ‘Mr Glockenspiel’.

There were constant confusions throughout the play, nobody was quite who they were assumed to be, There were two Butlers - one Mr Butler, the guest (played by David Sadler), the other was Guest, the butler (Jack Holland). Good performances from both of them.

Rodney Saunders was in good form as Cook, the gardener, and held his own with a very deep voice (and the occasional shouts of “I know who did it”) and standing still with his mouth open. When he fell later (collapse of stout party) he was very difficult to pick up again.

Val Horton played by Mrs Gardner, the cook (see how complicated it gets) was equally fearsome, when roused, and strongly denied all that was said about her. Mary Ship, played by Chloe Holland, interrupted some of the conversation by gaily wheeling in a very loud vacuum cleaner. She turned out later to be the vicar’s daughter. (Confusing or what?)

The whole play ends with Sue Etheridge (as the supposed murder victim) appearing on stage and all the others confessing that they were somebody else. Sue was finally dragged out showing her pink knickers and down came the curtain. An undignified exit for a Church Warden and School Crossing Lady, but a splendidly funny night out for the audience.

Many thanks and congratulations, too, to the Director and Producer, Ronnie Whitehead, and to the other directors and managers and all the back stage team.

Leslie Fairweather

Inspector Drake's Last Case programme (681 KB PDF file. To save, rightclick and select "save target as".)