by Kirsty MacLeod
After conducting the pre-show interview with a handful of the cast, I was very eager to see how the first night of the show would unfold. With the direction of Ainé Taylor, the producer Jessica Taylor, and the stage manager Michael Mullen, there was no need for any doubt on the quality of the production. Stirling University’s Drama Society definitely put their own twist on Agatha Christie’s ‘The Unexpected Guest’ and it was frankly hilarious!
If anyone is unfamiliar with the plot of the Agatha Christie play, it is a murder mystery play, set in the wealthy estate of the horrendous Mr Warwick moments after his murder. The mystery element was one of the most entertaining parts of the play, as the audience was seeing everything that was happening, each conversation between the characters, the audience was attempting to figure out who the murderer was.
Even though in the play there were multiple points where I was said, “Yes, it is definitely them”, two minutes later, a line would be said and throw my theory completely out the window. It definitely made the play more interactive between the cast and the audience, which was a fun element!
However, the highlight of the play, for myself at least, was the outrageous Inspector Thomson, perfectly portrayed by Jonathan Anderson. Amazingly, the impression left on me by this character was a wannabe Sherlock Holmes, and he was really brought to life by Anderson – it was brilliantly hilarious.
To the intense stare that no one person in the audience could take seriously to the over mispronunciation of ‘Anchel’, meaning to be Henry Angell, portrayed by Kieran Skelton. Not to mention the physical comedy and one-liners between Johnathan Anderson and Daniel McCrorie, portraying Sergeant Cadwallader was a special element and the humour at a high, even when discussing the grim topic of murder.
I was aware from the pre-show interview that each actor was allowed a form of creative control and was able to add their own spin to their character. After seeing the play, I can say it definitely works as each character was distinctively unique, and it just works!
The comedy, however, was not necessarily done by dialect, it was more physical comedy, and with the likes of Julian Farrar (portrayed by Kris Cummins) his facial experiences were just classic, all the emotions were perfectly timed. Not to forget the power balance and interesting relationship between Julian Farrar and Laura Warwick (played by Lauran Goodwin) worked beautifully.
Of course, we cannot have a review of ‘The Unexpected Guest’ without discussing the unexpected guest of Michael Starkwedder, portrayed by Connor McLaughlin. The seemingly trustworthy stranger who stumbles into the world of the Warwicks’ wealthy estate. The character brings a sense of normality and sanity into the play, but that tad of mystery. However, a sense of coldness as he is not grief stricken after seeing the dead body of Mr Warwick.
The most interesting character, I found, was Jan Warwick, who was brilliantly portrayed by Cameron Watson. Watson’s acting ability to portray through facial expressions and adding little touches to each movement in this excitable, childlike, but sinister character is extremely impressive.
Although I have not mentioned each individual, each actor put more than 100% into the play. I was highly entertained and intrigued by this performance with the physical comedy between and the chemistry between all actors and it just worked. Not to forget that Abby Ferguson, as Mrs Bennett and Eilidh Nurse as Mrs Warwick were sensational. The transformation for Eilidh Nurse to an older woman was done perfectly.
Once again, the SUDS production did not disappoint me in the slightest, it was hilarious and well-paced. The actors giving their own personal spin on their characters was an element which sets this play apart from the original Agatha Christie play.