Death in High Heels by Richard Harris, Christianna Brand
About the show
It’s a big day at Christope et Cie, a small couture house off Regent Street. Mr Bevan will announce which of his staff he is sending to France to be the general manager of a new branch in Deauville. Will it be the talented and elegant Miss Doon or the loyal and long-serving Miss Gregory? Perhaps senior sales-woman Irene or showroom manager Dorian will get the job. Events take a dramatic turn over lunch when Miss Doon collapses and dies.
Inspector Charlesworth and Sergeant Wyler are sent to investigate a murder behind the gossip and glamour of a 1930’s fashion house. Secrets and lies are rife as more than one person harboured resentment towards Miss Doon…
|IRENE BEST||CATHERINE NEWSOME|
|The most senior member of the sales staff. She is brisk and efficient but insecure and not averse to a little sentimentality. She is the mother figure of the piece, with unfulfilled ambitions of her own. Irene can be a bit of a ‘know it all’ at times, and she is a bit of a brown noser, but she does genuinely want what’s best for the salon and its staff.|
|FRANK BEVAN||ALEX MOORE|
|The proprietor of “Christophe et Cie”. A ladies’ man of mature good looks he is charming and self-satisfied. If he was a Mars bar he’d eat himself. Sporting a pencil-moustache and slicked down hair he is a seasoned womanizer, targeting various members of staff and pitting them against each other with false promises.|
|ROSE MACINERNY “Macaroni”||ERIN WHYTE|
|The general factotum and most overtly comedic role. Endearing, clumsy, enthusiastic. She is mousy and does not bother with make-up. Incredibly willing but mentally slow. Some might suggest that this slowness conceals a native craftiness. She has the memory of a sieve. Think Mrs Overall.|
|ZELDA GREGORY||LARA BUNDOCK|
|The boss’s right hand. Tall, angular, stately, heavily made up and dressed with immaculate care. She has cold eyes and most of the staff are terrified of her. Short tempered, abrupt, and work obsessed. Think Duchess of Windsor.|
|DORIAN POUVIER||ALISDAIR LOW|
|The showroom manager. Rather fussy, exacting and self-important. A shining example of ‘bitch and stitch’. Dorian is a closeted gay man in 1937 and he wants this secret to be kept quiet. Dorian may be a perfectionist but he has a softer side and is popular with the other sales staff.|
|RACHEL GAY||MANDY SIMMS|
|The “vendeuse” (sales girl). She started her working life as an actress. She has not had the easiest time but tries her hardest to muddle through. Rachel has a six-year-old son and an awful marriage. She also had an affair with Mr Bevan and is worried about her messy impending divorce and her indescression overlapping. Very popular with the sales staff.|
|AILEEN WHEELER||KATE SPIVEY|
|The model. A languid goddess much influenced by screen heroines. Streamlined eyebrows, the lot. She drifts rather than walks and affects an upper-class drawl that sometimes slips to reveal her London working class origins. She is ambitious, no filter, bubbly, fun-loving and brash. She has a lot of costume changes, some of which will happen on stage.|
|CAROLINE DOON||MONICA GALLO|
|The boss’s left hand. She is well dressed in somewhat exotic clothing. Always smoking. Unreadable, changeable, sly. She’s a strong woman and afraid of no one. She is often lurking in the background listening to and silently mocking the others. She is Australian or possibly American (you have to be able to do a convincing accent for this role).|
|INSPECTOR DAVID CHARLESWORTH||CAL REID|
|The good cop. Incredibly engaging character. Good looking, charming, unmarried. He has a deceptively casual manner and is at times a bit flirty. He is the inspector sent to investigate the murder and holds together the second half of the play. He could probably charm a confession out of the most innocent person and he doesn’t miss a trick. Think a better dressed, good looking Columbo.|
|SERGEANT LILIAN WYLER||SUE JAMISON-POWELL|
|The bad cop to Charlesworth’s good cop. She is a solid, no nonsense woman but still feminine. Wears an off-the-peg tweed suit and flat shoes. A woman fighting for recognition in a male dominated world, she is no fan if the environment which she presently finds herself and does little to hide the fact. She has a good camaraderie with Charlesworth. She is very focused on solving the case and takes notes throughout.|
The Director’s bit:
In the nineteen forties, while Europe was still at war, a new comet burst upon the world of detective fiction. With her debut novel ‘Death in High Heels’, Christianna Brand at once established herself in the forefront of women crime writers, and so starts our story…
After sitting quietly in the back of rehearsals, either studiously learning our lines or working backstage we decided that after being members of The Company for three years our time had come to take the helm and try directing.
The main problem was, we had no idea what play we wanted to do. We knew we wanted a female-led play with parts written specifically for women. The type of play we both love is an engrossing murder mystery which is well-written and where very few people know ‘whodunnit’. This was no easy task.
Luckily, Richard Harris has written a great selection of plays containing female heavy casts. So Despite Jamie’s numerous attempts to persuade Ian that ‘Stepping Out’ would be a good option (even though neither of us know how to tap dance) when Ian heard that a play called ‘Death in High Heels’ existed the squeals down the phone suggested we may have a winner on our hands. Upon reading the available extract on the Samuel French website our interest was piqued, copies were ordered and devoured and we were hooked. Each character is unique, have realistic and relatable hopes and dreams and we were lucky enough to have a brilliant, hard-working cast who have brought each character to life.
This play would not exist without some incredibly hard-working generous, talented and patient souls. We’d like to thank Pip for his support in promoting our play, thanks also to Tony, Ben and John for your tech awesomeness and to everyone who has believed in this project, honestly we could not have done it without you .Thanks and love finally to our ‘Theatre Mum’ Alison and to our ‘actual’ Mums Carole and Tracy who are the original strong women in our lives who inspired us to be the people we are today and taught us that we can achieve anything when we believe we can.
Fierce, love and KNICKERS!!!