Playing it for laughs and thrills at St Boswells

Fiona (Dorothy Jefferson) and Lydia (Gail Gibson) bicker at each other during St. Boswells Drama Club's performance of ' Out of Sight... Out of Murder@.
Fiona (Dorothy Jefferson) and Lydia (Gail Gibson) bicker at each other during St. Boswells Drama Club's performance of ' Out of Sight... Out of Murder@.

An author sits in an isolated house in Vermont, clicking at an old typewriter and trying to work out the plot of his latest thriller.

Peter Knight’s career is on the slide and, to save it, he must come up with something special.

But what happens next is more incredible than anything he could have imagined.

A bolt of lightning and his characters are there in front of him!

But as he tries to work out the plot, he finds his inventions have minds of their own and the plot takes some unexpected twists.

Mayhem ensues as the author struggles to regain control of his own creations.

That is the quirky background to Out of Sight ... Out of Murder, the comedy thriller by Fred Carmichael which is being staged this week by St Boswells Drama Club.

The show, which continues in the village hall tonight and concludes tomorrow (curtain up 7.30pm), is the club’s 61st consecutive production and that continuity is reflected in a superb piece of work, expertly directed by Selkirk’s Simon Watson, making an impressive debut with the company.

A whodunnit with a difference, the play gives knowing nods to the great exponents of the genre – from Edgar Allan Poe to Agatha Christie – with some classic elements, including a will reading, a murder during a power cut and an unexpected denouement.

The success of the production depends on sharp dialogue and well-observed characterisation and this two-acter comes up trumps on both fronts.

Andy Drane is perfect as the troubled Peter Knight, a role which sees him on stage throughout, grappling with what to do with characters which, we soon realise with much comedic effect, cannot be seen by an increasingly bewildered housekeeper Minna, played in the 47th consecutive year by Mairi Campbell.

The imagined characters run the gamut of literary stereotypes – the dismissive old spinster Fiona Babcock (Dorothy Jefferson), the stuffed-shirt lawyer Jordan Dillingham (Alastair Turnbull), his money-grabbing, man-eating wife Lydia (Gail Gibson), the ingenue – and sole beneficiary of the will – Kay (Clare Bridges), the juvenile lead Dick Stanton (Scott Ridout), the butler (Michael Clarke) and the maid (Caitlin Tait).

This all-aged company (Clare, Scott and Caitlin are all secondary school pupils) contribute to the weird and not-so-wonderful world Knight has created and there are laughs aplenty from some biting lines as the show gathers pace through twists and turns to its jaw-dropping climax.

Admission to the show, which opened to a warm reception last night, is £7 (£6 concessions) at the door.