Walberton Players stage Murder with Ghosts

Walberton Players pull off quite a coup with their next production when they stage the world premiere of Murder With Ghosts.

The play has been done before by the Funtington Players as a read performance, book in hand, but this will be the first time it will come to life fully staged – the latest chapter in the Walberton Players’ long and happy association with playwright Simon Brett, who lives just outside Arundel.

They have staged works by Simon before – and are hoping this particular production might well lead to Murder With Ghosts being published.

Lady Constance Cholmondley suspects she is about to be murdered at her home, Quittendon Manor. She calls upon the services of amateur sleuth Peregrine Villiers to prevent her anticipated demise.

The Walberton Players are inviting you to find out whether he succeeds. Performances are from Thursday, May 28–Saturday, May 30 at 7.30pm. Tickets £10 on 01243 552882 (before 9pm).

David is delighted at the way it is coming together: “It’s a wonderful mixture of comedy and intrigue and drama. Simon wrote it in 2010, and then he put it on the back burner. I don’t know why. It has never been published at all. Funtington did it with just a few props and book in band. (Walberton Players president) Madeline Doman spoke to Simon and got the rights for us to do it.

“It’s a very good script. It’s set in a library at a manor house in the 1930s, what Simon calls the timeless between-the-wars period, a kind of Gosford Park. It has those kinds of attributes.

“Lady Cholmondley owns this big palatial manor house, but she fears she is about to be murdered for her wealth and property. She is having a party, and she calls on the services of Peregrine Villiers to try to keep her alive. One by one the characters are done in and become ghosts...”

Villiers is the man to help: “He has been to lots of places before to work out what is going on. He is fairly astute.”

But to say more would be to give too much away...

David’s wife Jeanette is playing Lady Cholmondley: “She’s wealthy. She’s no fool. She is a very clever old girl. She has these famous Cholmondley emeralds. Someone has taken them, and she fears for her life and property. She changes her will in favour of virtually every character as one by one they are bumped off.”

The fun is that no one is really ever quite what they seem: “The whole thing twists and turns all the way through. It’s a two-act play, and there are a couple of very good stage effects and all sorts of things.

“Simon came to the initial read-through of it. He is also coming to see part of the rehearsals, and I have been in touch by email to ask him various things. He is very supportive.

“He said to me last time we spoke that he hopes to get (publishers) Samuel French to come to see our performance with the hope of getting it published professionally. If they do that, it would say ‘first performed by Walberton Players’, which would be nice! We are hoping it will happen, not just for us, but for him. It’s a very, very well written play, with lots of comedy and intrigue.

“The cast have worked very hard on the fact that when people come back as ghosts, they don’t come back dressed in shrouds. They come back almost as themselves...”