Tomb With A View

January 2008

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Tomb With A View - by Norman Robbins
Performed - Wed 30th January to Sat 2nd February 2008

The sinister and dysfunctional Tomb family awaits the reading of the old man's will, which involves millions of pounds, with bated breath. They all have their own twisted reasons for wanting the money. Very rarely venturing into the outside world they live in the cocoon of their home, Monument House. Each family member is positively barking. One wanders round in a toga convinced he is Julius Caesar, another has werewolf tendencies and indulges in weird and wonderful experiments while a third, who appears to be a gentle old lady, delights in killing people off with her poisonous brews. By the third act the play is littered with corpses. This comedy-thriller will keep audiences guessing as it twists and turns to its surprising conclusion.

The reading of a 'Will' it has been said can bring out the worst in families. The 'Tombs' are no exception. In fact they're 'dying' to find out. So I think it's only right and proper that your reviewer checks it out at Blackfriars Arts centre.

Old man Tomb is dead. Trusted Lawyer Penworthy pours himself a drink amid the howls from the resident werewolf Oliver Tomb who is never seen, only heard as he's locked safely away down in the family vaults. The other members of the Tomb family however live very much above ground.

Lucien Tomb tinkers in his laboratory insisting that he's the head of the family and quite enjoys dwindling the wildlife numbers with his potions. Dora Tomb on the other hand goes for the slightly larger model and 'tops' humans (don't touch the sherry). Emily Tomb dresses as a man and bosses everyone she can and has a mouth on her like a foghorn.

Then we have Marcus Tomb strutting his stuff in a toga. He is completely bonkers and believes he's Julius Caesar. And last but not least, Monica Tomb is a big girl. Let's say she wouldn't sink in the local swimming baths! She loves men and could eat a whole one, not literally of course but would have a good try at mouth to mouth.

This not-so-bereaved bunch are gathering impatience as the reading of the Will is nigh. Penworthy has just announced that before the old boy's money gets shared out amongst the siblings, family nurse and the housekeeper there is to be another beneficiary, a romantic novelist. Miss Ash arrives later that morning with her 
secretary Peregrine Potter.

Gasps of 'who's she' soon ring out and when it seems Miss Ash is to get the lion's share after death duties are paid she soon falls by the wayside (didn't I warn you about the Sherry) closely followed by a few other members of the Tomb family. Losing your head? One of them does. 'Who’s next'?

Well I can think of seven million reasons why this weekend will throw up a few more bodies for the cold slab. Calling the family Tomb dysfunctional is about spot on.

Pure masters of their art Boston Playgoers have you sleuthing before you can say 'where there's a Will there's trouble' in this Norman Robbins comedy thriller. Set entirely throughout in the library with the old boy's portrait looming down over his murderous family, our characters dish out red herrings by the bucket load. They fall out of bookcases, get shot, stabbed and eat cyanide flavoured apples and drink poisoned wine.

Direction and timing in this situation has to work and it did superbly, in fact the set was outstanding and pretty robust given the bodies falling out of the woodwork! Director Glyn Ruskin and all the cast excelled resplendently.

Lucien exercised his eldest of the family routine with just the right amount of boyish frustration, down to the stamping of the feet – comedy at its best. Housekeeper Agatha Hammond had the air of the famous Mrs. Danvers from Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, her exquisite timing is wonderfully dry.

Voluptuous Moncia excelled, draping herself across dear Peregrine Potter every moment she could, especially when poor Peregrine drove into the lake and had to shed his clothes on stage. We all waited with baited breath, would that sheet dare to drop or not?

Superb facial expressions were the order of the day from Emily and the real Dotty darling was Dora, her face actually lit up as she spoke with such affection about the bodies under the rose brushes, including the poor 'Avon Lady' who copped it last week! A classic take on those brilliant actresses (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) in 'Arsenic and Old Lace'.

So as to the identity of the real killer, it looms largely at the end but do we dare ask whodunit? Was old man Tomb really dead? Did Nurse Anne's healing hands tend to just the really bonkers Marcus? And was Peregrine Potter really a secretary? Quick pour the sherry I might just tell you or go on have a guess; you'll just die laughing and that's a promise! 

June Atkins, BBC Radio Lincs 13/02/2008

Actors names on right:

Penworthy - John Lingard
Lucien Tomb - Stuart Bull
Emily Tomb - Abby Johnson
Dora Tomb - Helen Gordon
Marcus Tomb - Bob Green
Monica Tomb - Liz Fenton
Agatha Hammond - Kathy Fullerton
Peregrine Potter - Robert Innes
Miss Ash - Ros Blowers

Production Team

Director - Glyn Ruskin
Stage Manager - 
Set Design - Liz Worsley / Paul Gibson
Set Construction - Paul Gibson and members of playgoers
Stage Crew - Wayne Waite
Costume - 
Furniture & Properties - Liz Worsley 
Lighting - Paul Gibson
Sound - Paul Gibson
Poster - David Edgar
Programme -