The Gazebo

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Peter's Methodist Church Hall, Park Lane, Norwich


> St Peter's Methodist Church Hall, Park Lane, Norwich

The Great Hall Players are specialists in theatre in the round. It is a style of production that always starts promisingly. Even before the actors come and act their parts, you get a good look at the furniture and props. A sofa, a desk with typewriter and phone, the drinks cabinet, of course, a hearth complete with shovel and poker, and a rug with a striking light-coloured design to make a centrepiece.

Now, director Victor Young seems to be saying, what can you do with that to make an entertaining comedy thriller?

Of course, you never could guess, not at the beginning nor even seven scenes later after playwright Alec Coppel has led us quite a dance.

There is laughter, all the better for being spiced up with a bit of fear, and amazing surprises to contradict the inevi-table links between events that we, like the characters, think we can make out. To make things even better, Elliott, played with wide-eyed amazement by the gangling Steve Hewitt, is supposed to be professional in situations like this. An author of TV detective dramas, he finds real life – well, that what he thinks it is – imitating his most ingenious plots. Carol Bailey is his much put-upon wife, Robin Saunders plays the heart-bitten DA with one last trick up his sleeve, and cameos make distinct contributions.

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And the Gazebo? Well, explaining too much would be a shame, so let's say it becomes a concrete symbol of the way the past can add something very useful to an American garden even nowadays.

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