Secondary Cause of Death

I saw Peter Gordon’s play Secondary Cause of Death at the Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon. Described as a comic murder mystery, the play is the second in a trilogy about the bumbling Inspector Pratt, though (luckily) you don’t need to have seen the first to understand what is going on.

In this touring production by theatre company Talking Scarlet, David Callister from The Bill plays the bungling Inspector: his incompetence is breathtaking and I liked his frequent malapropisms. Some of the other characters veer into stereotypes: Henrietta the jolly-hockey-sticks army captain, the strongly-accented Polish count, the intelligent spinster – but that is part of the fun. The play, which is set just before World War II, clearly pokes fun at the likes of Agatha Christie, and will probably appeal more to those who enjoy this kind of story. In common with the more “serious” works of Christie there are plenty of twists and unpredictable occurrences – though the body count is as high as might be expected!

The show isn’t particularly groundbreaking and had me giggling rather than laughing out loud – as comedy murder mysteries go it doesn’t match up to The Play That Goes Wrong. However, it is an entertaining night out and certainly worth seeing if you want to be cheered up.


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