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Review: Father Brown at South Shields Customs House

The 5 Dagger Mystery
Father Brown – The Curse of the Invisible Man
South Shields Customs House
Until Tuesday 26th April 2016

Rumpus Theatre brings Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s mild-mannered Father Brown to live in order to solve another mystery.

Diana Hope is a keen archaeologist who found two of a set of five 8th century daggers. Each dagger had been inscribed with the name of an enemy of the time and a part of a phrase in Latin. Her wish had been to piece together all 5 parts of the mystery. Unfortunately one of those daggers was stolen, presumably by the former fiancé of her neice.

Her niece Ella then receives a letter written in red rink suggesting that they need to hand over the second dagger to the former boyfriend. Rather than contact the police, Diana decides to pop into Father Brown’s church to see if her life long friend fancies working out the mystery.  As Father Brown investigates there are some killings, centred around these daggers, but no witnesses.

John Lyons will be remembered for his role as David Jason’s sidekick DS George Toolan in ITV’s A Touch of Frost for 17 years. He moves from that detective role to that of Father Brown. John’s experience leads to a pleasing second act in which his character takes control of the situation.

Diana Hope, the archaeologist aunt, is played by Karen Henson. Again the character benefits from a much better second act. The trouble in the first act is that she has to deliver a huge chunk of exposition about the history of the daggers. This could have been cut down someone and that would have help improve the pace of the early scenes.

Charlotte Chinn appears as the artistic niece Diana. Both Charlotte and Karen give engaging performances as the likeable, if not slightly dotty, characters.

John Goodrum is the playwright, co-director (with David Gilbrook), setting & lighting designer and appears as current fiancé of Diana, Angus Turnbull. Angus is fresh out of the army and keen to protect Diana.

Sometimes murder mysteries suffer from too many scene changes but that is not the case here. However, a little bit of trimming of the back story would have helped make this a tighter tale.

That said, Father Brown – The Curse of the Invisible Man represents a welcomed yet fairly rare stage appearance by GK Chesterton’s popular crime buster. It is nice to see someone detect a case without engaging in histrionics.  John Lyons is a delight to watch and a great supporting cast make this an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Father Brown – The Curse of the Invisible Man is on at the Mill Dam theatre on Monday and Tuesday from 7.45pm.
Tickets start from £14 with meal deal options available from the box office on 0191 454 1234 or by visiting

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