With over seventy plays to his credit, Sir Alan Ayckbourn is allowed a couple of ‘clunkers’ among his many successes: It Could Be Anyone of Us is one such ‘clunker’.
The trouble with this murder mystery/comedy is that the murder doesn’t happen soon enough and the script isn’t that funny. It is also very wordy and has a rather disappointing ending.
A couple of gimmicks that the play does have going for it are that we’re not quite sure who the victim is going to be (there are two possibilities) and the murderer can change each performance courtesy of some stage business.
Ayckbourn is known for his love of dysfunctional characters and his Chalke family creations are certainly no exceptions. Failure is the name of the game for these participants: Mortimer Chalke is a composer no one listens to; his brother, Brinton, an artist whose paintings no one looks at. Their sister, Jocelyn is a writer who can’t finish any of her works; her partner, Norris is an insurance investigator who can’t solve cases; and her Goth daughter, Amy, doesn’t finish any of the activities she starts. Mortimer has just drawn up a Will leaving the family home to a former piano student of his, Wendy Windwood, who never kept playing.
Erik Strauts gleams as much entertainment as possible from this production by making his cast behave slightly larger than life: it’s a clever move to make the characters more interesting to watch. The fun is added to by Normajeane Ohlsson’s brilliant over-the-top, cartoon-like set.
Anita Canala plays Jocelyn as the quintessential Ayckbourn female; she has troubles put upon her, but comes through with motherly determination and good old-fashioned, true British grit. Canala’s is a nicely controlled performance that could have easily become too hysterical.
Bernadette Abberdan is beautifully twee as Wendy but needs to watch the quietness of her volume at times, notably the Act Two table scene between herself and Canala.
Looking remarkably like Wednesday Addams from TV’s The Addams Family, Georgia Bolton is a scream as Goth Amy. Bolton does not even need to speak to get laughs – her eye-rolling looks say it all.
Les Zetlein is nastily commanding as Mortimer. Brother Brinton is played delightfully by Jarrod Chave, whilst Jack Robins is fine as the inept detective figure but needs to watch his clarity of speech when using a rather thick Yorkshire accent.
Thanks to Strauts and company, this production is a lot livelier than one would imagine it to be in less skilled hands.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: St Jude’s Hall, 444 Brighton Road, Brighton
Season: 13 – 22 November 2014
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins, including interval
Tickets: $7.00 – $20.00
Bookings: Ph: 8270 4205