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"I KILLED THE COUNT" HAS

* GOOD PREMIERE

By "Scrutator"

(BLAIRE MITCHELL'S piercing scream, v-/ unnervingly realistic, gives precisely

the requisite introduction to "I Killed the Count," successfully launched on its season by a Repertory Theatre Society cast at "The Playhouse," Hobart, on Saturday. Her role as Polly, the all-observant maid in thc block of flats In one of which she finds Count Mattonl dead, ls a slight one, but it keys the fday's action Instantly to the pitch of absorb ng excitement that is maintained as the plot proceeds, and in her subsequent occasional entries she animates events.

The construction of Alec. Coppers play ls neat and the handling of lt by the producer. Olive Burn, effective. Three people, each for individual reasons seek to convince police and audience that they killed thc Count: the New Yorker, Bernard K. Froy (Stanley Wells) to rid himself of blackmail; Mullet (Don Sharp), the liftman, for tho sake of monetary loot; and Lord Sorrlngton (N. P. Booth) to avenge a wronged daughter. As each is interrogated, light fade-out switches interest to successive reconstructions of thc crime. In each case there ls struggle, a shot, and thc Count, apparently, ls finally dis- posed of.

Comedy mingles with melodramatic inci- dent to such an extent that by the time the mystery ls unravelled onlookers are Indis- posed lo take the explanation seriously. This

ls n weakness that truer balance could cor- rect, for the denouement should be as con-

vincing and tensely dramatic as ls tho cur- tain-raising scream. The play suffers, too, by excessive repetition of the reconstruction element. When, for instance, it ls made clear that the three presumed murderers In reality are fellow conspirators, thc scene In which their plottlngs are elaborated In detail could well be "taken as read." Here, as else- where, the playwright unduly underlines thc

obvious.

In deference to specific programme request I do not disclose the identity of the actual assassin. Subjected, by the end, to four "deaths," Linus Donnelly, as the Count, stands up to his killings remarkably well.

In abject grovelling before Lord Sorrington he reaches his fullest heights-and depths.

There Is abundant light and shade In the production; some of this variation might to advantage bc more evenly spread over the cast. Phyllis Nicholson (Renee La Lune, cabaret star Ant occupier) competently main- tains a powerful American accent. Stanley Wells, listed also as a States' resident, could benefit by closer association with her In this regard. Jack Gunn, emerging periodically from his flat as Diamond, the Jewish sharp dealer, steals thunder at his every appear- ance in a role whose every word and attuned action would make lt. elsewhere, as success- fully, a variety turn hailed with delight. The heavy part carried by Robert Hudspeth (Inspector Davidson) is so continuous as to demand fuller range In Its vocal expression; his lines would carry better also if thrown more to the back of the theatre. His assistant. Darrell Mlley (Detective Raines), makes the most of the witticisms presented to him by the script. Evelyn Ward Is good as Martin, the fussy and perturbed proprietor of the flats all of whose living occupants arc sus- pect. Rhona Connery as Louise Rogers, a temporary resident, has her exciting moments, vitally expressed. P. G. Henty (Martin, thc alternate liftman) and Albert Sharp (Constable Clifton) ably contribute essential support.

The comedy-thriller, centring on its mur- der claimants, in general is skilfully accomplished. The compliment won by the Repertory players in this and other produc- tions is that though amateur, their estab- lished standard ls so high as to invite criticism appropriate to professional under-

takings. .

The play, assured of popularity, will bc repeated tonight.

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