Dong Ding Murder Me On High has completed a short UK tour.
Star Rating: ****
Playwright Peter Gordon’s popular character, bumbling officer of the law, Pratt (David Callister) is back and he’s a Sergeant. It’s Christmas Eve and it’s anything but peaceful in the residence of Sir Walton Gates (Jeffrey Holland).
The family are beginning to arrive while Personal Secretary, Morag McKay (Natasha Grey) is trying and failing to finish her work so that she might go home for the festive period. Emma Gates (Carly Day), (daughter of Sir Walton who acts like a stroppy teenager ever though she’s far older, in years at least), arrives with a new man in tow, James Washinton (Oliver Mellor). She’s spoiling for a fight with her step-mum, Grace (Anna Brecon), Sir Walton’s second wife, and has unwittingly brought Grace’s ex beau with her. Cue sneaking around and snogging in true bedroom farce style. Sir Walton is expecting his brother, Archie (Mark Little) who has travelled from Australia for a family reunion having been an outcast. The scene is set for a trouble-some family Christmas, and then there’s an addition to the predicted chaos, Pratt arrives with his colleague, Mary Potter (Polly Smith) to collect for charity. Why the police would do this on Christmas Eve? Who knows, but naturally an incident of some description is required for Pratt’s arrival. If it were real police business it’s highly unlikely he would show up!
It’s all slapstick humour and mistaken identity thanks to Sergeant Pratt’s general incompetence. However an offer from the Sergeant to perform a dangerous magic trick as part of his charitable efforts sets off a murderous chain of events. Hilarious consequences along the way? Guaranteed!
I have seen David Callister play Pratt before, he epitomises the role and the audience were behind him all the way. Polly Smith was by far one of the stars of the show, her welsh accent was spot on and as a sidekick to Callister, to watch her performance was like a masterclass in itself. Jeffrey Holland was on fine form as Sir Walton, finding amusement in the situation and oblivious to the money grabbing reasons his wife, Grace has married him for. I enjoyed his interactions with his brother, Archie, and Holland is always a strong member of any cast, in my experience. Mark Little was predictably whacky as Archie, over-the-top Australian in every way, also in a way that piqued my curiosity – which was well placed as it transpired. I also enjoyed Oliver Mellor’s portrayal of James, the cad-like character who appears to be up to something.
With a Pratt mystery you get the standard plot of a whodunit but with comedy to die for (pardon the pun) and an investigating officer who cannot string a sentence together without misplacing words. It’s a clever and well-crafted script that leads the audience wondrously up the garden path… where you’ll most likely find Sergeant Pratt lying face down in the gravel having tripped over his own feet!