Tipling Stage Company opens with Murder Mistaken Friday

May 5, 2016   ·   0 Comments

“We had what we call the rehearsal from hell two weeks ago,” said Director, Bev Nicolas, “when the actors are off book for the first time and they’re constantly calling out ‘line,’ ‘line,’ and stumbling through, but we soon got over that and then, things started coming along very nicely.”

Thus reassured, we went on to talk about this upcoming play, Murder Mistaken, opening May 6 at the Grace Tipling Hall in Shelburne and running this weekend, May 6, 7 and 8 and next weekend, May 13 and 14.

This play, written by Janet Green, a British playwright, begins with the twist that the audience watches the murderer do the deed and the question is: will he be caught out?

“I saw the play years ago in England and really liked it then,” Mr Nicolas commented. “They made a movie of it, changing the title to Cast A Dark Shadow with Dirk Bogart and Margaret Lockwood. Kathleen Harrison is in it too. She’s always been a favourite of mine – I loved her in a Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim – that fabulous scene on the staircase. She lived to a 104 years old;  she died about 10 years ago.”

In brief, the story of Murder Mistaken begins with an older woman who marries a much younger man, Edward Bare. Although she seems to dote on him, perhaps love was not entirely blind, for, unknown to him, she  changes her will, cutting him out of it. Ignorant of this, Edward murders her, with the audience as witnesses, for her money, only to discover that he has nothing more than he had when he married her. He begins his gold digging with another possible victim who, it turns out, is wiser than he anticipated.

Clever to the end, the likelihood of Edward’s avoiding discovery seems all too possible – what will trip him up – if anything?

Mr. Nicolas loves directing and his experience goes back many years and many plays, in which he either  performed, learning from great directors, or then taking on the job himself. For him, a play is largely about the movement of the actors.

With Murder Mistaken, Mr Nicolas has been well pleased with the progress: the set is beautiful and the actors are in full readiness for their first performance this weekend.

“We put posters up in Dundalk this time,” he remarked. “Unfortunately, Dundalk Theatre is closed as their building has been shut down. I hope they’ll come; there’s always been this competition between  Dundalk and Shelburne. Seems too bad.”

With theatres suffering generally, we asked about ticket sales for the company and Mr. Nicolas confirmed, “Ticket sales are fine.”

Going on to discuss the business of making a play work: “Each play has its own way of working,” he explained. “Movement on the  stage  is very important. So, blocking is a series of pictures where you feel that it’s the right way to do it. The instincts of the actors are important too. Directors and actors are a team – sometimes, an actor will make a  suggestion and I always listen. Other directors who are dogmatic loose something from the actors.”

When putting the final work together, during those rehearsals when the actors are all on stage with the completed set and the lighting and the actual props, “blocking can be obvious. There are points on stage that are strong and work because there are moments when something important is going to be said.”

Mr. Nicolas was pleased to remark, “For this production, all the cast is experienced people which is good. Josh Oatman, as the lead, is doing very well.”

He told us that he still keeps in touch with colleagues in “the Old Country [England].”

He said, “In my early days, I worked in an old theatre in Blackwood and they’re still there. I was among the first to play in the new building. I got in touch with them recently – a bit of history.”

Murder Mistaken opens tomorrow, Friday May 6. Evening performances May 6 and 7; and again May 13 and 14, all at 8:00 pm. Sunday, May 8 and next Sunday, May 15 are matinees at 2:00 pm.

Details and tickets at

Written by Constance Scrafield

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