2016 - Funeral Games



Joe Orton -the bad boy of British Playwrights - always set out to shock and surprise and The Russell Players latest production of his 1968 black comedy "Funeral Games" did so in an amusing and entertaining manner.
Nigel Adams' neat production  utilised a very effective split set, which kept the action moving along well. The absurdity of the unlikely and complex plot, (involving a 60's Cult leader who hires a dubious thug to kill his wife in revenge for her apparent affair with a Catholic priest!, was brought to the fore. Orton's  anti religious theme and his biting satire of suburban hypocrisy and immorality came through with humour, pace and a vibrancy of touch.

Chris Partridge (playing Pringle,a self styled religious guru and con man), set in motion the action of the play well, adopting a self dilusional and literally "Holier than thou" approach. He was suitably persecuting and judgemental of his somewhat simple minded and naïve wife Tessa (played by Tessa Costin). The difficult role of the mysterious and strangely appealing underworld hit man Caulfield,was played with menacingly evil overtones by Mitch Mitchell.  Glynn Marshall was convincingly amusing as the hapless defrocked priest  McCorquodale, (who, it is later revealed, has  murdered his own wife and buried her in the cellar!) The absurdly farcical yet disturbing mood of the piece was caught well,and the relationships between the characters effectively presented by all four actors.  The absurd situations which the characters created for themselves,combined with Orton's  black humour, brought home to the audience  Orton's cynical and somewhat sinister view of  organised religion of all kinds.  This combined with some very entertaining and witty banter, made for an enjoyable and thought provoking performance.

Duncan Hamilton