Murder Mistaken

Murder Mistaken cast

Murder Mistaken: Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth

In many ways Murder Mistaken is staple London Repertory Players fare - a classic crime thriller with a tried and tested pedigree. Yet in a five week season at the Shelley that alongside the whodunnits included plays by Alan Bennett and Noel Coward, it somehow seemed the odd one out. 

The story, set in the 1950s, centres on Edward ‘Teddy’ Bare’, a psychotic gold-digger whose life is far from a picnic. He’s a closet gay who preys on a series of women who he perceives to have money. Bare is played by Mitch Capaldi at a sometimes frenetic pace in a production that seems intent on making caricatures of the story’s main players. Though clearly a deliberate device, this tends to be distracting. 

Bare is a complex character - controlling, coercive, misogynistic, and full of self-loathing. Unfortunately the necessary constraints of weekly rep mean that a deeper exploration of this human time-bomb is simply impossible and that must be frustrating. One almost wonders whether the over-the-top characterisations of Bare and other figures in the story were  simply designed to up the entertainment value. 

Hephzibah Roe’s housekeeper Emmie for instance is practically pantomime fare. While Margaret McEwan is strangely exaggerated as Bare’s elderly first wife. She looks positively Mrs Mertonesque.  Happily McEwan, clearly a fine actress, turns in a slick and astute performance when she returns as another character in the second half.

Originally written by Janet Green, Murder Mistaken went on to be  reworked as both a TV drama and a 1955  film, Cast a Dark Shadow, starring Dirk Bogarde and Margaret Lockwood. The London Rep Players production, directed by Al Wadlan, closes the company’s 2019 summer season. It features several familiar faces including Victoria Porter as another of Bare’s intended victims and Neil James as lawyer Philip Mortimer who smells a rat from the get-go. 

With murder most horrid and a suitable twist or two in the plot, it is entertaining enough drama and certainly not without humour but it doesn’t quite display the calibre of some of the other 2019 shows. This, I stress, is a relatively minor quibble. All the LRP shows, including this one which was greeted with great applause and whistles of approval at the final curtain, have been excellent and we look forward to the company’s return for a fifth annual summer season at the Shelley Theatre in August 2020.

Murder Mistaken runs at the Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth, until Tuesday 3rd September

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2019