AUGUST, 2006 www.edinburghnews.com  EVENING NEWS
Wilde's story hits the spot
Class gap is still good for a laugh

Lord Arthur Seville's Crime, Murrayfield Church Centre
****

THEATREUPPER-class twits have been a staple of British entertainment for decades, from PG Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster to Harry Enfield's Tim Nice But Dim.
 

Based on a short story by Oscar Wilde, Constance Cox wrote Lord Arthur Seville's Crime in 1963 and, with their lively version of the play,
The Makers have continued that very British tradition of sharply lampooning the wealthy, remorselessly and in grand style.
Set in the 1920s, the story is centred around the impending marriage of Lord Arthur Seville and Sybil Merton. Prior to their nuptials, Mr Podgers - a chiromancer, or palm reader - tells Seville that he will commit a murder some time in the near future.
The ensuing saga unravels with humour, drama and a scathing commentary on the


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glitterati and their behaviour.
Baines the Butler, impeccably and deftly 
portrayed by Martin Burnell, is intellectually superior - if socially inferior - to Lord Arthur, who is magnificently and wittily played by Nicol Nicolson.
It would have been all too easy for Nicolson to have simply given an typical impersonation of Bertie Wooster, but instead, he brings depth to his character.
If Seville was to be lampooned, Nicolson wasn't going to make him too easy a target, and that makes both his character and the unfolding plot all the more riveting. Similarly, Amy Fraser's delightful take on Sybil Merton avoids a cartoony, posh flapper caricature.




These three performances steal the show, but the supporting cast also create a wonderful arena for them to work within.
Anne Ritchie thoroughly relishes the role of Lady Clementine Beauchamp, giving her the air of a loveable auntie, while Jo Barrow is beautifully understated as the villain of the piece, Lady Julia Merton, the deeply reluctant mother-in-law to-be of Lord Arthur.
At just over two hours long, this play could have easily dragged, but for Mary Grey's tight and snappy direction. No scene overstays its welcome and no comedy opportunity is missed, but never at the expense of solid storytelling.
Until August 26
MARTIN LENON