Whodunit a mix of Milligan, murder

Hello, hello, hello . . . Getting ready to take Inspector Drake and the Perfekt Crime to Timaru audiences are (back, from left) Cameron Lines (PC Plod), George Hollinsworth (Inspector Drake), (front from left) Karel Hill (Dr Short) and Georgia Carnegie (Sabrina Short). PHOTOS: CONNOR HALEY

A case of whodunit is afoot in Timaru as the Playhouse Theatre is transformed into the scene of a murder mystery.

The South Canterbury Drama League’s Little Theatre is preparing to stage Inspector Drake and the Perfekt Crime, directed by T.J. Ramsay, at the beginning of March.

Written by renowned English comic playwright David Tristram, the play sees Inspector Drake face his greatest ever challenge, as he attempts to unravel a plot with more twists than most.

Ramsay said it had been a blast so far tackling the ‘‘wacky’’ play.

‘‘It is a fast-paced comedy but it’s not a farce — it has elements of melodrama in there as well.

‘‘It’s very wacky and it doesn’t make sense a lot of the time — it’s really a Sherlock Holmes mock.’’

Having directed Run For Your Wife and Popcorn in the past, it was great to have a core cast group return to work with her once again, she said.

‘‘It means you are finding the right people, people who are up for a challenge and who are happy to dive into something completely different.

‘‘We’ve tackled three very different shows and that cast continuation is great because as a director you get to see the development of people and the improvement as they get better.’’

George Hollinsworth, who plays Inspector Drake, said audiences should expect the unexpected.

Hard yards . . . Rehearsing hard before opening night are (from left) Jessie Cook, Karel Hill, Georgia Carnegie, George Hollinsworth and Cameron Lines.

‘‘I liken it as Spike Milligan meets Monty Python.

‘‘It’s absolute nonsense but we’re all enjoying it, having fun and we hope the audience will too.’’

Hollinsworth, who was part of both of Ramsay’s previous productions, said it had been really cool to have retained a similar cast across the three very different shows.

‘‘We’ve all got to know each other on and off stage, but certainly on stage, and it’s actually quite good because you get to play off someone you recognise.

‘‘Run for Your Wife was the first we did together and it was a funny play, Popcorn was delving a bit into dark humour and this one is just nonsense — we are just doing a whole lot of laughing on stage.’’

Addressing the recent controversies surrounding the Theatre Royal redevelopment Ramsay said theatre still played an important part in the local community.

‘‘Local theatre is vital. There are a lot of people out there who don’t do sport and millions and millions of dollars is thrown into sport,’’ she said.

‘‘You develop so much in your skill set through theatre. It’s telling stories that are important. It’s about challenging people’s perspective on things and even just making them laugh because the world is a bit of a dark place at moment.

‘‘We need somewhere to do that.’’

Fighting words . . . Accusations and maybe even fists will fly next month in the South Canterbury Drama League’s latest production. (From left) Karel Hill, George Hollinsworth, Cameron Lines and Georgia Carnegie.

The play will run for 10 straight shows beginning on March 1 with one matinee on Saturday, March 9.