Walter Pearce, Member of Parliament, isn’t much of an advert for modern British politics, as we discover in Rob Urbinati’s play, Death By Design, which was presented by the Farnborough Dramatic Society (FDS) in a 3-night run that concluded on 18th February. Pompous and philandering, he is central to the action of the play. Convincingly portrayed by Robin Walker, he is surrounded by an array of characters joining him in congregating at the home of Edward (Martin Dale) and Sorrell Bennett (Nicola Hollow), respectively a playwright of dubious talent and his narcissistic wife. Martin, hitherto outstanding in the earlier FDS production Dangerous Obsession, was once again in fine form, and he has a real talent for playing both innocence and evil. Here he was well-matched by Nicola Hollow, who did a fine line in sheer battiness.
As the night unfolds, more characters are woven in and are found to be related in more ways than at first meet the eye. Housemaid Bridget (Barbara Jones) develops a surprisingly pivotal role. Chauffeur Jack (Nick Abbott) deadpanned his way effectively throughout and had the best comic line of the night, featuring a popular meat product. Left-field and leftward-leaning politically Eric (Mark Hollidge) produced some of the night’s livelier moments. The liveliest of all are embraced with aplomb by Victoria Van Roth (Victoria Hollidge).
This is an oddball, slightly bonkers murder mystery directed by Holly Seijo, and Victoria was the oddest ball of all, sweeping, curvetting, and gasping around the stage, and that before she encountered several too many martinis. The simple set provided a suitable backdrop and, not for the first time, a lot of ‘alcohol’ is consumed on stage, suggesting the theatre has some good behind the scenes celebrations. The night passed quickly, and was constantly entertaining, absorbing and fun, and a reminder of just why, when we arrived early, there was already a queue outside.
Do pop along to Farnborough Village Hall and see an FDS production. They’re well worth it, and good value at around £10 a ticket. The next show is Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott, on from 18th to 20th May 2023. Congratulations to the FDS on their 80th anniversary this year. The FDS website is here.
Darren Weale, 20th February 2023