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Monday, 9 May 2022

REVIEW: Busman's Honeymoon at the Mill at Sonning Theatre

Dorothy L Sayers British literary creation of the aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey should perhaps be as familiar to British TV and Theatre audiences as Agatha Christie’s Poirot, but David Suchet’s masterful TV portrayal and countless film adaptions have completely eclipsed him. It is a very long time since the 1970s and Ian Carmichael’s radio and TV portrayal which I have vague memories of, so it is perhaps overdue to see a restaging of this story first staged in 1936 and made into a film in 1940! Unlike Peter James’s rather macabre plays about Detective Roy Grace, this is a detective mystery where the emphasis is on romance and the feelings of the detective rather than the crime itself, although as it turns out it is a rather quirky and unusual murder method although the clues are well signposted throughout the show.

Lord Peter Wimsey is the archetypal British gentleman of the period educated at Eton and Balliol College Oxford and then suffering PTSD during the First World War where he met Sergeant Bunter who becomes his valet (for twenty years) before meeting Harriet Vane who he marries in 1935. In this play, we meet all three as they arrive at Talboys in Hertfordshire for their honeymoon only to discover the body of the former owner, Noakes, in the cellar. In the course of his detective work his relationships with both are fully explored and his intelligence and literary knowledge are often displayed. James Sheldon captures the quietly superior character while revealing some of his inner turmoil and regrets as well as his love for Harriet. Vane is played by Kate Tydman as a delightful loyal wife with an understanding of crime and intellect to match him and their choreographed moves elegantly portray their love and relationship. Bunter is portrayed by George Telfer as the upright stiff and loyal servant who rather curiously gives shoulder massages to his new mistress! 
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