A murder at Ellon’s Victoria Hall

Ellon’s Victoria Hall was the scene on the evening of Saturday, November 15 of an intriguing murder – at least on stage.

Rocket Theatre, based in Manchester was performing a dramatisation of Oscar Wilde’s short story Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime.

Lord Arthur, at a party given by his Aunt, meets her “chiromantist” who privately reads his palm and foresees that Lord Arthur will someday commit a murder.

As he is engaged to be married, Lord Arthur decides he had better get the murder out of the way before his nuptials.

After unsuccessfully trying to poison an elderly distant relative and blow up the Dean of Chichester, he meets Mr Podgers, the chiromantist, one night on a deserted bridge.

Engaging him in conversation, Lord Arthur flips the unsuspecting Podgers over the parapet to a watery death beneath.

A formal verdict of suicide is returned by a later inquest.

Lord Arthur proceeds with his wedding where the word on the street is that Podgers was a charlatan and none of his predictions ever came to fruition.

The programme for the evening indicated that there were to be only two actors in the performance and I was intrigued as to how a tale with so many characters could be enacted with only two performers.

But this was very effectively and cleverly done by Martin Harris, who played Lord Arthur and also wrote the stageplay version of the story, whilst almost all the other personae were ingeniously characterised by Chris Bridgman whose timing and gestures were immaculate.

Minor parts were fulfilled by conscripts press-ganged from the audience.

The Victoria Hall proved the perfect venue for the production, with the audience seated at white-clothed tables each with a candle and a rose giving the pretence that we were all at a party in Lord Arthur’s diningroom at which he was regaling us with the tale.

The subtle use of the Hall’s lighting gave its vast expanse an intimate feeling.

This was the first venture into live drama at the Victoria Hall in recent years and if Rocket Theatre’s production is indicative of the standard to be expected, hopefully it will not be the last.

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