The Studio Theatre Company presents
The Unexpected Guest
Directed by David Stacey
Auditions are 7.30pm Tuesday 10th & Thursday 12th July at SHP (venue tbc). No pre-reading required. Auditions will be held in pairs/groups using sample texts and some improvisation. *Note: the role of Starkwedder may be cast as female, pending licence approval.
Wednesday 5th – Saturday 8th December 2018 (four performance nights, 7.30pm). Cast would need to be available for all nights of show week (w/c 1st December).
Location: Studio Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell.
From w/c 17th September 2018. Twice-weekly at SHP to start with, with extras added later (likely to be Mondays & Wednesdays 7.30-10pm, and also Sundays 2-5pm)
Characters – in order of appearance (playing age):
RICHARD WARWICK (no lines; 30-50)
the corpse! Likely to be doubled with FARRAR or THOMAS
MICHAEL STARKWEDDER (30-50)
the unexpected guest, who finds the body. A geeky engineer who’s car has broken down in the fog. May become a female character, pending licence approval. Lead role
LAURA WARWICK (30-50)
wife of the murder victim, Richard Warwick. Stoic, troubled, but protective of her family. Female lead.
MISS BENNET (any age)
the Warwicks’ housekeeper. Protective of Jan. Medium-length role.
JAN WARWICK (20s)
Richard Warwick’s half-brother. An interesting and challenging character to play; Jan is autistic. Medium-length role.
MRS WARWICK (60+)
Richard Warwick’s mother. Strong, matriarchal character. Medium-length role.
HENRY ANGELL (any age)
Richard’s manservant/valet. Slippery character, Angell is clearly scheming something. Shorter role.
JULIAN FARRAR (40-60)
a local MP, having an affair with Laura Warwick. Posh, slick, and not afraid to cut and run. Shorter role.
INSPECTOR THOMAS (40-60)
the senior policeman; official, short-tempered but determined. Welsh accent. Longer role.
SERGEANT CADWALLADER (20-40)
the junior policeman; cheeky, with a fondness for poetry. Welsh accent. Medium-length role.
Synopsis: It is Christmas on the foggy Welsh coast, but there will be no Peace and Joy on this night. A stranger stumbles into a house to find a woman holding a gun over the body of her husband. But her confession to murder is mysteriously unconvincing. Could one of the house’s other occupants hold the answer? With allegations from the past providing the police with a selection of suspects and ample motives, this is a vintage whodunit to keep you guessing until the end!
Notes about the play:
The Unexpected Guest is a full-length play (there will be one interval, each half being under 60 mins). The play was written in 1958 by English playwright Agatha Christie. It is a classic whodunit, and will be set in the late 1950s. Agatha Christie published this story as a stage play originally, and it has only recently been printed in novel format. The action takes place in the house of Richard Warwick, in South Wales, over the period of two days. The main characters of the play are Michael Starkwedder* (an engineer who has got lost in the fog), Laura the wife of Richard Warwick, and various members of her family and household staff. There is no ‘famous detective’ in this story – the crime is investigated by the local police.
All the action takes place in the study of Richard Warwick. The structure of the play is fairly straight-forward, but the challenge will be maintaining the dramatic suspense and clever audience misdirection to keep everyone guessing the outcome right to the end. Although the play was not originally set at Christmas time, this production will have a festive look and feel (set decoration, supporting music, etc). As a bit of fun in the interval, the audience will be invited to vote on who they think ‘dunit’ based on what they have seen so far.
The play starts with Michael Starkwedder*, having broken down nearby in his car in the fog, stumbling into the study of Richard Warwick. Switching on the lights, he finds the body of Richard with his wife Laura standing over him with a gun. Starkwedder proceeds to piece together what has happened. Realising that Laura may be a victim of domestic abuse (Richard Warwick is a nasty character who many people might want to shoot!), Starkwedder agrees to help Laura before the police arrive. They agree to stage a break-in, ending in a gun shot. The rest of the household wake to the noise and come to investigate. Was one of them only pretending to be asleep? Who else is loitering in the fog? Will the local police work out the truth when they arrive the following morning? It would spoil things to reveal the answers here!