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Review: Busman's Honeymoon (The Mill At Sonning)

Who doesn't love a good whodunnit mystery? A classic tale is currently playing at the beautiful Mill at Sonning as Busman's Honeymoon is revived for the stage. Adapted from Dorothy L. Sayers 1937 novel, the story is set around the fictional character Lord Peter Wimsey, of whom Dorothy wrote 11 novels about. But when it comes to a stage adaptation of the story, will they escape the curse of murdering the story?


The basic premise of Busman's Honeymoon is that Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane have just been married and head to a farmhouse they have just bought for their honeymoon. Trying to escape their normal routine of solving crimes and writing about them respectively, it's not long before they're back in the habit when a dead body turns up. From then, it's a case of working out which of the cast of eleven killed the victim. And don't worry - I won't be spoiling the outcome here!



The lead role of Lord Peter Wimsey is played by James Sheldon who oozes charisma as he parades around the stage, engaging with his fellow cast members with charm and confidence. His wife Harriet is played by Kate Tydman who provides the perfect partner for him on stage - together they exhibit a natural chemistry and a real believability as the crime solving newlyweds.


The rest of the cast consists of predominantly a mix of stereotypical classic characters, played with hilarity. Highlights include Helen Bangs delightfully batty Miss Twitterton, Joanna Brokes as housekeeper Mrs Ruddle, and George Telfer as the long suffering and understated butler Bunter. The cast are completed by Christian Ballantyne as Frank Crutchley, Duncan Wilkins as eccentric reverend Simon Goodacre, Iain Stuart Robertson as comedic highlight Mr Puffet, Chris Porter in a small role as Mr MacBride, Luke Barton as the most exaggerated constable you will ever see and Noel White as Superintendent Kirk who helps try to solve the mystery. An expert cast whose interactions with each other prove joyous and hilarious in equal measure.



The script stays on the right side of interesting at all times - predominantly comedic, the tone does get darker at some points. We are dealing with a murder after all! Nonetheless, Busman's Honeymoon is full of some hilarious one-liners and punchlines. Never quite crossing the line into farce territory, the play is acted out fairly straight though with a subtle wink to the audience.


Directed by the legendary Brian Blessed (who played Bunter in a previous production), Busman's Honeymoon features an impressive recreation of the home on stage, including the brilliant use of outside the home, with characters regularly walking past the windows. A relatively small stage features some large set pieces including a satisfying visual conclusion as the mystery is solved.



Any trip to the Mill at Sonning is more than just the show that is being played out on stage, with the audience treated to a truly gorgeous two course meal before the show. Add to that the picturesque surroundings creating a truly beautiful atmosphere, the shows that are put on here are always part of an unrivaled experience that provides a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, while allowing you to get back to the heart of London in less than an hour.


Trips to The Mill at Sonning are a guaranteed great night and this is no exception, with Busman’s Honeymoon an exceptionally good production for the venue. A fantastic cast and a gripping story full of twists and turns make this a fantastic night out. Catch it there while you can – it would be a crime to miss it.


★★★★


Busman’s Honeymoon is playing at The Mill at Sonning until June 25th. Tickets from http://www.millatsonning.com/


Photos by Andreas Lambis

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