A CLASSIC Agatha Christie whodunit is set to deliver a web of intrigue for the Old Mill Theatre’s first season of the year.
Directed by Joan Scafe, The Unexpected Guest follows a stranger lost in fog, who seeks refuge in a nearby house – only to find a man shot dead and his wife standing over him with a smoking gun.
But the woman’s dazed confession is anything but convincing so the unexpected guest decides to help.
Police clues point to a man who died two years previously but, as the ghosts of a past wrong begin to emerge, a tangled web of lies reveals family secrets and chilling motives where the real murderer turns out to be the greatest mystery of all.
“Agatha Christie wrote numerous ‘whodunit’ plays and this is no exception,” Scafe said. “It’s a play from the 1950s and remains in that era so there’s no trying to modernise it.
“It’s been some years since I was on stage at the Old Mill Theatre, so my first challenge has been finding my way around.
“I have directed one cast member before while the others I need to work with, getting down to the detail as I see it.
“It’s imperative the cast’s work away from rehearsals, such as getting their scripts down, gives us plenty of time to polish the show.”
Initially performing while at school in the UK, Scafe has more than 40 years’ theatre experience in WA after she first took to the stage in a Murdoch University production of The Bacchae at Dolphin Theatre in 1977.
She appeared in Melville Theatre’s inaugural show Not Now Darling in 1982 and has appeared in a plethora of plays since – and was nominated for best actress for her role in Three Tall Women at the 2009 Finley Awards.
A dual role in the Queen and I also earned Scafe an award from Playlovers with many people not realising she was playing Princess Margaret as well as a neighbour in slippers and curlers with a cigarette in her mouth.
More recently, she has appeared in Calendar Girls at Stirling Theatre and On Golden Pond at Harbour Theatre while also directing several shows at Melville Theatre, where she is a life member and past president.
“The Unexpected Guest came my way under unusual circumstances,” Scafe said.
“The Old Mill Theatre needed a director at short notice because the play was already programmed, so I said I’d step into the breach!
“I had never read it and had to get auditions done as soon as possible – but with seven roles for men, I was concerned.
“Men are usually in short supply at auditions but we made it and the play was fully cast.”
Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest plays at 7.30pm February 23, 24, March 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 with 2pm matinees February 25 and March 4. Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book at http://oldmilltheatre.com.au/tickets or call 0475 895 701.
The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post).
unexpected1: Whodunit? Find out in Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest with Kit Leake, left, Jeremy Smith, Ryan Perrin, Wayne Cant and Praveen Hooda, at back, Jackie Oates, Sian Burgess and Davilia O’Connor, at front, and Charlie Young, sitting.
unexpected2: Sergeant Cadwallader (Praveen Hooda, left) and Inspector Thomas (Kit Leake) interview man-child Jan Warwick (Charlie Young) in Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest.
unexpected3: Wayne Cant, left, is Michael Starkwadder, the so-called “unexpected guest” of the play’s title, with Jackie Oates as Laura Warwick.
unexpected4: Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest features Sian Burgess as housekeeper Miss Bennett and Davilia O’Connor as Mrs Warwick, the family’s matriarch.
Old Mill Theatre
South Perth's Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to be operating out of one of the most historic buildings in South Perth. It was opened in 1899 as a Mechanics' Institute Hall. The South Perth Council purchased the building in 1913 and renamed it the Mends Street Hall. The council still owns the building, and supports our use of it.
The building first became a home of theatre in 1948, when the South Perth Dramatic Society moved in. The name Old Mill Theatre was first used in 1958, and the company was incorporated in 1959. In 2009, the theatre celebrated its 60th anniversary.
A number of significant changes to the building have occurred over the past few years, with major extensions completed in 2002. An understage tunnel, which links two backstage dressing rooms and enables easier access from one side of the stage to the other, was completed in 2008. Bathroom facilities have also been installed backstage as part of this project, which was wholly self-funded.
The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from its local council, the City of South Perth. The city undertook major renovations to the exterior of the building in 2008 and the theatre is looking better now than ever before.
P: 08 9364 7804