Murder at Checkmate Manor


It was cold and overcast yesterday as l made my way down to Mt Eliza Community Centre for Frankston Theatre Group’s production of Murder at Checkmate Manor.

I say Frankston Theatre Group, but, it was actually the upstanding ladies of The Farnsdale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomens Guild Dramatic Society who put on this murder mystery. Yes, it was a play within a play and weren’t those Townswomen awful.

Proceedings started with them wandering the hall and stage. They then managed to make a hash of the script with miscued dialogue and very hammy acting. The stage fell to pieces, props appeared without warning and then disappeared; wigs were askew, their timing was all out and they even managed to fight amongst themselves at times. There was a fashion parade and a quiz with a prize at the end of act 1 which added to the bizarre feel of the murder mystery. All in all a cheesy and amateurish attempt by those upstanding ladies.

Of course it was all played for laughs. The all female cast hammed it up as those appalling characters and didn’t the crowd love it. Lisa Johnson(Felicity), Leah Osburn(Audrey), Joyce Sedunary(Sylvia Frobisher), Marissa Tunks(Mrs Reece) and Carolyn Waddell(Thelma Greenwood) all managed various costume changes and various other characters with aplomb. Written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jnr it was a cleverly staged production that played well to it’s audience.

This was true community theatre. A sweet sherry was waiting for me when l arrived and we all sat at tables. The audience members came in with their own food and drink. There was even tea and coffee available during the interval. It had a community feel to it and l met some of the elderly groupies(yes, l have their permission to call them that) in the foyer before the show who come to every production. Speaking to the President of Frankston Theatre Group Angela Snelson after the show was informative. This group has no permanent home of their own and play these venues to keep costs down for the audience; we love hearing that at Loving the arts on a budget. They do 3 productions a year with the next one being at the Langwarrin Performing Arts Centre.

The whole experience was a fun afternoon with a well performed show and free sherry. What more could l ask for. I’ll leave you with some photos that were kindly forwarded to me by the director Annie Laurenson. Thanks Annie and the Frankston Theatre Group for an enjoyable afternoon.




Frankston Theatre Group:


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