Stylish comedy of crime
NICOLA Saunders was briefly acquainted with Constance Cox, the writer who adapted Oscar Wilde's Lord Arthur Savile's Crime for the stage.
"I knew her for a short time, and her only recommendation for directing the play was to have fun with it," says Nicola.
And as director, fun is what she intends to bring to next week's production of the comedy by Congleton Players.
"In the original short story, Wilde was clearly poking fun at the aristocratic classes," says Nicola. "He shows them in turn as stupid, greedy and caring for nobody but themselves.
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"Constance has written the perfect script, incorporating lines which could have come directly from the pen of Oscar Wilde himself."
Nice but dim Lord Arthur Savile, played by Matt Butler, is shortly to be married to beautiful Sybil Merton (Sasha Tadman).
Before they tie the knot, however, Sybil's mother, Lady Julia Merton (Sharon Auerbach-Sim), is anxious to check on her would-be son-in-law's suitability as a husband for her beloved daughter.
When Lady Julia hears about Mr Podgers (Martin Daniel), a cheiromantist or palm reader said to have exceptional powers of divination, she decides to have him read Arthur's palm.
An appointment is made, and Mr Podgers duly scrutinises Lord Arthur's palm.
Unfortunately, Mr Podgers is visibly upset by something he sees.
He eventually admits he saw blood on Arthur's palm, something which is taken to suggest that at some point in the future the subject would commit a murder.
Arthur is shocked by the news, but he has the presence of mind to realise that if he is destined to be a killer, he might as well get the killing over and done with before he marries Sybil.
That way no shame will be brought upon his bride and their marriage.
Lord Arthur therefore sets out to commit the crime the palm reader has foreseen.
This is easier said than done. An initial plan backfires, leaving Arthur more desperate to murder someone – anyone – before his marriage.
"Playing Lord Arthur is Matt Butler's first lead role with the Players, and he brings to it the necessary quality of the gullible toff.
"Peter Sutton, as his butler Baines, is equality impressive, and the master-servant relationship is entirely believable.
"We also have a wonderful turn from Ken Brindley as Herr Winkelkopf, the German anarchist who tries to help Lord Arthur with his tasks, but is in fact more of a hindrance than a help.
"The rest of the cast are no less impressive, and we hope the sets and costumes will provide colour and period authenticity."
Lord Arthur Savile's Crime is at
The Daneside Theatre, Park Road, Congleton, from April 24 to 28 at 7.30pm. Tel 01260 271095