HEADGATE Theatre’s outlandish Agatha Christie and panto mash-up was a blast with an all dancing, all singing and at every chance wise-cracking cast who breeze through a charming script.

Pat Whymark’s ‘Miss Mimple Meets the Ice Wolf’ – a spoof of a pantomime and Agatha Christie – was a complete success due to an accomplished cast which made consistently timed visual and scriptural gags appear effortless.  

Being a mash-up meant that the play had an incredibly rich amount of content to squeeze jokes at particularly and despite the mostly Italian Alpine setting, the perfectly uptight English villager.

Here, as well as being a too-proud baker, Miss Jane Mimple portrayed by Emily Bennet was found to be delightfully mischievous as well getting big laughs whenever her genteel mask and posh accent would slip - a wild ‘grab ‘em by the balls’ dog-trainer underneath.

Gazette: Spoof - Marcus Churchil (left), Emily Bennett (centre), and Julian Harries (right)Spoof - Marcus Churchil (left), Emily Bennett (centre), and Julian Harries (right) (Image: Common Ground Theatre Company)

Julian Harries was great in all his roles – a briefly seen skiing queen bee and a slightly sadistic scientist - but it was when dressed up as a werewolf-man where Julian could really show off with naturally funny reactions and cheeky looks to the audience.

Likewise, the younger Bewlay Dean-Stanton excelled at being the butt of other’s jokes, especially as an idiot mockney lackey, and was great as his own semi-human wolf. 

While funny Marcus Churchill as an Essex-born actor had a to my ears strong American accent which did not feel gratuitous at all because it helped the play execute its camp 1970s TV detective show feel – an international melting pot for hammy stock-characters.

Another great creative choice by director and composer Patricia Whymark, was to use a slightly-off-stage guitar throughout the play, making the theatre experience more immersive.

Further, towards the end of the second half there was a stunning example of how music also balanced the show's pace - a psychedelic ice-wolf ride.

Through surreal music and imagery, the journey of where men and women become free-loving wolves, was a funny skit itself, and just as effective as any stand-up.

Gazette: Verstaile - Emily Bennett (Left) impressed as the lupine Rema with Marcus Churchill (centre) and Bewley Dean-Stanton (right)Verstaile - Emily Bennett (Left) impressed as the lupine Rema with Marcus Churchill (centre) and Bewley Dean-Stanton (right) (Image: Common Ground Theatre Company)

Miss Mimple took the best of each of its sources while showing restraint in not being too gross, or dirty, or crucially excessively wordy and so created a great play I'm sure most will find funny -  even the twee and square real-life Miss Marples.