Banbury Cross Players launched their 2019 season with ‘Audience with Murder’ from the pens of Roger Leach and Colin Wakefield and Directed by Terry Gallager. Not so much o a ‘Whodunit’ but more of a ‘What’s-it-all-about’ The Director’s notes state that when he first read this play by Roger Leach and Colin Wakefield, he didn’t understand it. Well I can understand that.

The piece starts conventionally enough with Kelly & Dean in Alan & Sue’s living room reading through a play Sue has written. Alan constantly criticises Sue’s efforts and the whole scene turns into a bit of a maelstrom especially when Sue discovers Kelly’s had a ding-dong with her hubby Alan.

BCP stalwart Philip Fine faultlessly played as per the lead role of Alan. His confidence and diction made his character totally believable, although I am sure I detected a touch of the Bruce Forsythe’s with Philip’s chin from time to time. Still it was Nice to See Him, To See Him Nice.

Tara Lacey was Sue and as always Sue-perb (!) I am a paid up member of the Tara Lacey fan club and never seen her in any role where she has been shall we say ‘duff’ in any shape or form.

Sue was timid, bullied by her husband Alan but as the play progressed Tara leapt into a myriad of different roles showing anger, remorse, and deviousness even a pathological killer among other guises.

In the second act it’s every man for himself. We are off on a bumpy roller coaster ride where convention is left badly at the post and into a plot that has more twists and turns than Clapham Junction.

Just when you think you have latched on to what’s going on, you have the rug pulled from under you and into a major re-think. I defy anyone on this, the first night of the run, to admit they knew what was happening, and that probably includes a most of the BCP cast & crew.

However this is not to say the play wasn’t hugely entertaining. The set by Peter Bloor was simple and most effective. The large what appears to be Jackson Pollock print on the rear wall didn’t do anything to help possible migraine sufferers using their full mental ability dismantling this multi-layered plot.

Characters were aplenty in this act. It would be impossible for me to explain who played what without a cast list the size of a London telephone directory. They came and they went, poisoned, stabbed or shot, with the cast revealing regularly they were not who or what you thought.

Kelly with her impressive French accent in Scene 1 was played by Kate Groves who though suffering initially from a lack of volume blossomed as the play progressed and her confidence grew.

This leaves Theo Cumming, the young fella who again had a list of parts to perform and generally he performed them well. However his Scottish detective in the second act lost me. I couldn’t understand a word at first, it seemed to be a cross between Scottish & Russian but could have been Klingon for all I knew. As an aside I loved the Teddy Bear’s Picnic ring tone on his mobile, must try to get that.

Theo’s portrayal of the knife-wielding lunatic was very convincing and slightly worrying at the same time, he looked like he was enjoying too much for my liking!

The intrigue and revelations continued right up to the last unexpected final twist. Exhausted, I headed for the bar.

There was a healthy turn out for the first night and no prompts as far as I could hear, all in all another success chalked up by BCP.