Written by John Hewer
Directed by Rachael Hewer
Dr. McKubrick/Waiter/Mr. X/William Ford – David Asher
Trixie Upton/Barmaid/Eve Gore – Jane Crawshaw
Rowetta Summers – Stefanie Elliot
Detective Sam Sloane – John Hewer
Frank/Mr. Hackett/PC Willie MacWimple – Peter Hoggart
“Things had been pretty quiet at the office of my agency. Ever since my partner had lost his sense of speech, that is…”
Meet Sam Sloane, Private Detective (that means he detects things privately), as he tackles his most dangerous, most compelling, most farcical case yet.
Max Summers, a local horse-bookie, has disappeared. His vampish sister, Rowetta, wants to uncover the truth, and calls on our intrepid hero to solve the mystery.
Join Sloane, Rowetta, his assistant Frank and a plethora of characters, red herrings and running horses in this hilarious tour-de-force of witty gags, broad slapstick and delightful puns.
Performed at the Soho Theatre, 30th April & 1st May 2012
Stop!… You’re Killing Me is a bit like what would happen if an old fashioned Carry On movie married a 1950s Hollywood Romance and then had an affair with Bertie Wooster.
John Hewer’s script is rife with word play, sexual puns, satire, cliché and red herrings. There’s even a pantomime horse! All bunged together to tell the tale of a private detective (John Hewer) trying to solve the murder of Rowetta’s (played by Stefanie Elliot) brother. The plentitude of red herrings in the plot is emulated by David Asher, who came out from behind the curtain brandishing a fake red herring, which he then preceded to slap John Hewer in the face with, as a little wink to the fact that the audience were being led down so many twists and turns that it was a bit like getting lost in a maze!
Stefanie Elliot gave a brilliant performance as Rowetta. She oozed Hollywood glamour and had a swagger that could compete with Marilyn herself. I’ve never seen somebody express so much with their eye brows! And she only had to look at the audience to have them in stitches. Peter Hoggart played the silent assistant turned evil psychopath brilliantly, as well as shining in his many cameo roles; the saxophone player who kept popping up in moments of tension, much to John Hewer’s displeasure, was my personal favourite. In fact the whole cast did an excellent job, David Asher and Jane Crawshaw changed from character to character, and accent to accent, with the ease of someone trying on a new dress. And John Hewer played the lead well.
The projections added a nice modern twist to the old-fashioned jokes. The clips from the spoof black and white movie Suspicious Circumstances were a highlight and an interesting way to reveal yet another red herring in the mystery. The soundtrack was another winner, and John Hewer’s voiceover gave the whole production a cinematic atmosphere, which could have been accentuated if only the projections were a little bigger, and not confined to one corner of the rectangular stage.
The ending was a little drawn out, the mystery could have been solved a lot faster if some of the speeches had been cut a bit shorter. But watching the actors fling their limbs around the stage as they pretended to play the drums, the organ, a saxophone, a trumpet, and a bomb turned in to a xylophone, made up for the long winded ending and had the audience in, yet more, fits of giggles. In fact, this moment was one of the best for giggles.
The others being: John Hewer falling off his chair while trying to seduce Stefanie Elliot, Elliot’s entrances as a Hollywood screen goddess accompanied by ‘swoon’ music and her expressions of seductive confusion, which never got old, and the pantomime horse who doubled up as a stagehand also got plenty of giggles.
It’s hard to get away with cliché and stereotype without being overly corny, but the cast pulled it off and I’ll easily forgive them because I haven’t laughed that much in the theatre in ages, and I really don’t normally like pantomime horses! All in all I think brother-and-sister team Rachael (who directed the production) and John Hewer, who make up Hambledon Productions, are ones to watch out for.
Sophie Fenella Robins, What’s on the Fringe, 2012