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Bodies pile high in latest Grantham Dramatic Society play 'A Tomb with a View'

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‘Confused? You will be’ – that should have been the pre-show warning to audiences for Grantham Dramatic Society’s mind-fuddling play ‘A Tomb with a View’ at the Guildhall theatre last week.

The murder-mystery spoof promised to be packed with unexpected twists, turns, and bodies – and it certainly was – but one twist that was unfortunately impossible for the company to envisage was that two cast members would test positive for Covid on the morning of the Friday evening performance.

It took a little while for the audience to acclimatise to the two last minute stand-in actors having to read their lines from the book, but the gusto with which play producer John Foulkes-Jones and Helen Pack delivered their performances soon had the crowd on their side

The Wednesday and Thursday cast of Grantham Dramatic Society's 'A Tomb with a View'. (57292667)
The Wednesday and Thursday cast of Grantham Dramatic Society's 'A Tomb with a View'. (57292667)

The play centres around the Tomb family and the reading of their father Septimus’s last will and testament, and is set in their family residence, Monument House.

And what a strange family the Tombs prove to be. The eldest, Lucien (John Foulkes-Jones), is forever penning letters to the prime minister, green fingered police-obsessive Dora (Helen Pack) has a penchant for poisoning, Emily (Gemma Dove) constantly munches apples – even to her dying breath, whilst man-mad Monica (Deborah Hart) is after anything in trousers.

Ironically, the most sensible of the entire bunch is mad (or is he “merely disturbed”?) toga-wearing brother Marcus (Gus Sparrow) who basically thinks he is Julius Caesar. Oh, and did I mention their other brother, the unseen Oliver, who is chained up in the cellar and thinks he is a wolf? Never mind, he gets bumped off like just about all of the cast – but by whom is the question?

Their father’s will is read out by dodgy solictor Hamilton Penworthy (Tony Hine) who is set to receive a share-out along with the rest of the family – plus several other unexpected beneficiaries: Marcus’s nurse Anne Franklin (Briony Sparrow), Septimus’s favourite author Freda Mountjoy/Ermyntrude Ash (Niki McKay) and her assistant Peregrine Potter (Paul Dexter), actually con merchants, and not forgetting housekeeper Agatha Hammond (Rosemary Gibson) who is convinced that her master is still well and truly alive.

With much of the fortune missing and spent on death duties, the money is all heading the way of the novelist until she promptly drops dead whilst quaffing a glass of sherry.

And so, just like a Quentin Tarantino movie, the bodies start to pile up – albeit with an unfortunate distinct lack of fake blood to add to the realism. Who doesn’t like a gore-fest?

Unseen wolfman Oliver is shot in the cellar, Penworthy gets stabbed in the back before he is able to fire his gun, Marcus is shot while he peruses the will, uttering “Et tu, Brute?” with his final breath, father Septimus’s body goes missing from the family vault, housekeeper Agatha suffers a grisly end in the kitchen, Lucien’s head is found in a box, Emily eats a poisoned apple, Dora is found dead following a power cut and Potter shoots at Monica to stop her stabbing nurse Franklin.

Potter admits to Franklin that he is actually the author and that Freda had been his assistant, and so he is set to inherit the £4m. Franklin spills the beans that she is behind all the killings and was in cahoots with Penworthy.

The final surprise is that Monica is not dead, Potter had deliberately missed.

All that is left is for Monica and nurse Franklin to have one last fight, with the latter unable to save herself from the knife of the last Tomb standing. Monica and Potter live happily ever after – if she can ever catch him!

The play was directed by Joy Wilson, assisted by Vicky Aves. Others in the GDS back stage crew included prompt Sue Tayor, set designers and builders Martin Brewin and Tom McKay, costumiers Sharon Anthony and Rosemary Gibson, wigs Lis Connor, sound and lighting designer Nick Elliott, stage managers Mark Brown and Daniele Petruzzo, stage crew Izabella Lopez, marketing and photography/programme Helen Pack.

At front of house were Andy Anthony, Carole Brown, Heather Butterworth, Hugh Butterworth, Tony Jackson, Margaret Kendall, Kate Limmer, Amanda Taylor and Gillian Vincent.

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