Irresistible Murder and Mayhem
REVIEW: Inspector Drake and the Black Widow – Caxton Theatre, Grimsby
There are many great fictional detectives, among them Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes; unfortunately, Inspector Drake is not one of them.
When it comes to investigating murder, he is clueless; indeed, he wouldn't recognise one even if accompanied by the 1812 Overture and a barrage of canons.
Sergeant Plod, his sidekick, is just as incompetent and yet these two buffoons must solve the murder of John Johnson; discovered dressed as a woman, a huge sword in his back and having eaten a tortoise.
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As the plot unravels, the body count rises faster than mercury in a heat wave, each death eliminating a possible suspect.
However, this is not a conventional murder mystery; as the circumstances of Johnson's death might suggest, this is a comedy.
Inspector Drake and the Black Widow, directed by Jane Stolworthy and written by David Tristram, blends farce with daft, silly humour that proves simply irresistible.
Derek Hodges and Nigel Stolworthy, as Drake and Plod, are a formidable partnership on stage and they successfully extract every ounce of laughter from this brilliant script.
It is a sheer joy to watch them at work; whether they are engaging in wordplay, sight gags or knockabout.
Meanwhile, Amanda Hodges enthusiastically injects further humour; playing multiple characters, which require rapid costume changes and a diverse range of accents.
There are plenty of wonderful surprises along the way, not least, thanks to the ingenuity of the set builders but it's not for me to spoil the fun by giving the game away.
I guarantee you will also have fun working out who killed Johnson and, amazingly, Drake and Plod do ultimately solve the crime.
The show will run until Saturday March 9. Tickets cost £6 to £7.50 and are available from the Caxton Theatre Box Office at Grimsby Central Library, on 01472 - 246251 or by visiting www.caxtontheatre.com.