Busman’s Honeymoon at the The Mill at Sonning: Press night review by Stephen Vowles 

I will confess, I love a good murder mystery. The more thrilling and convoluted the better and with this production of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Busman’s Honeymoon co-written by Muriel St. Clare Byrne, you get that and much more. Directed by Brian Blessed this very tight eleven strong ensemble cast have completely gelled and made for a rather elegant night of theatre in such a superb setting.

With a rather scrumptious dinner and drinks beforehand then further refreshments in the interval, this was just a delightful way to spend an evening.

The build up to the murder is just fabulous, exquisite, and to use a phrase evocative of the period that the play is set in, totally spiffing!

Lord Peter Wimsey played by James Sheldon and his new bride Harriet Vane played by Kate Tydman have just purchased a county pile called Talboys from a Mr Noakes who has just vanished only to be discovered in the cellar, dead; but how did he get there and by whose hand? Of course as with most Sayers’ mysteries there is no shortage of suspects.

The exits and entrances of all the actors are all just perfect piling on the clues that come thick and fast, with red herrings galore. Sayers is a past mistress of character development and suggesting that most of the characters are not what they seem. Multi-layered and faceted, complex at times with an air of pure campness that is well-executed farce, and so apt.  

Blessed has evoked the era with stunning effect. The play is punchy with a certain pace to it and achieves its aim of entertaining an audience who will try and guess “whodunnit” right up to the last three minutes before the reveal. Engrossing theatre of this type is actually hard to pull off and this works because the cast are clearly having a ball.

Agatha Christie rated Sayers as a novelist and playwright; high praise indeed  and I have to agree Sayers remains the doyenne of crime drama.


Busman’s Honeymoon runs to Saturday 25th June at The Mill, Sonning Eye, Reading RG4 6TY. Box office: 0118 969 8000 

Photos by Andreas Lambis

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