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Laughter is the best medicine to a night of murder and mayhem

The cast of 'Secondary Cause of Death'
The cast of 'Secondary Cause of Death'
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A large ensemble cast of suspects gathered at the New Millennium Theatre for a devilishly funny murder mystery spoof, courtesy of the Rossendale Players.

From the pen of Peter Gordon, 'Secondary Cause of Death' is served up with lashings of murder, farce and slapstick by the talented Players, old and new.

Set in the fictional Bagshot House, the hilarious Agatha Christie spoof follows the machinations of a colourful cache of characters, with the bumbling Inspector Pratt, played by Gary Kennedy, taking centre stage.

Gary is brilliant as the inept inspector, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Inspector Clouseau famously portrayed by Peter Sellers in the 'Pink Panther' films.

Pratt, by name and nature, had the audience in stitches as Gary fumbled and fell foul of a host of hilarious malapropisms.

In his programme notes, director Peter Smith reminded us that 'laughter is the best medicine' and it certainly was the antidote to the increasing amount of murders and mayhem throughout the play.

Players regular Kevin Clarke is superb yet again, taking two roles, that of master of the house Charles Craddock, and thespian Cardew Longfellow.

It is in this latter role that Kevin really excels though, as the effete, camp Cardew. Kevin really lets rip as the hammy actor displaying his full range to the startled guests.

Among these guests, and another soliciting plenty of guffaws from the audience, is Lauren Downes as the upper-class Captain Henrietta Woolmer-Cardigan.

Kathryn Bland, as Lady Isadora Pollock, captures the sneering, bored aristo with a droll sense of humour perfectly.

Indeed, there are accents aplenty in this play, not least from Stephen Claxon who plays the enigmatic, mysterious Count Puchlik. Stephen is superb as he juggles Polish and German accents with aplomb.

Helena Rose, Dawn Rowe, Rachel Schofield and Christine Durkin complete the impressive ensemble cast.

Like most murder mysteries, spoof or not, the plot is fiendishly difficult to follow, but in many ways this adds to the fun.

'Secondary Cause of Death' runs at the New Millennium Theatre, Burnley Road East, Waterfoot, until Saturday June 9th (excluding Monday).

To book tickets call 079220 21505 or they are also available from Ticketsource.