Chalkhill Theatre Ltd currently has a double debut with the company’s first appearance at the Festival Fringe and the premiere of their new play. The hype for the show proclaims that ‘if Basil Fawlty and Agatha Christie had a child, it would look much like A Weekend Away at The Hotel Decevoir’. That seems unlikely on both counts.
‘this show will make you cringe’
At the heart of what would have Christie’s plot is the mysterious disappearance of a framed award, given in recognition of the Decevoir being the best hotel/restaurant in the county; or was it the country? There seemed to be some doubt. The allocalade creates a protracted dispute between the reception and kitchen as to who actually earned the reward. Failure to agree on that leads to its being located for a week at a time in each place, complete with a handover ceremony at 1230.
Some ten or so guests arrive in succession, each having their own histories, revelations and arguments which fill time until they all come under suspicion of having stolen the award and are assembled in the lobby for the Poirot-style investigation by ‘the hotel’s deranged manager’ who questions the ‘ridiculous characters’ as to their whereabouts and motives. The company claims that ‘this show parodies all the classic murder mystery tropes…minus the murder’. Certainly, there is no lack of deliberate exaggeration for comic effect, otherwise known as over-acting, as the caricatures of the old, the servile, the rich, the famous, the pompous and the arrogantly privileged strut around what becomes at times a very crowded and chaotic stage.
It’s a well-intentioned attempt to parody the famous sitcom and the work of the great detective writer. However, there is neither the intricacy of plot associated with Christie nor the quality of humour found in the writing of John Cleese and Connie Booth and the performances in Fawlty Towers. In some unwisely chosen words from the company, ‘this show will make you cringe’.