Writer: Deborah McAndrew
Director: Adam Sunderland
Reviewer: May Mellstrom
Audience members at the Liverpool Actors Studio Theatre on the 13th October witnessed a rare event; The Mikron Theatre Company actually performing inside a theatre. Mikron spend the summer touring by narrowboat before hitting the roads in the autumn, with the commendable aim of making professional theatre accessible and affordable for all. Consequently, Mikron can often be found performing in village halls, restaurants and even allotments but tonight proved that their unique brand of storytelling is equally at home in a more traditional venue.
When beekeeper April is found murdered at Thistledale allotments it is up to Detective Starkey (Nicholas Coutu-Langmead) to catch the killer. Could it be disgruntled Councillor Linda Crotty, whose attempt to close the allotments ended in failure? What about mysterious newcomer Willy Stringer, seemingly recognized by April just before her death? Or what of April’s anti-social twin sister June, who freely admits the two didn’t ‘get along’?
Coutu-Langmead is joined in the cast by Ruth Cataroche, Caroline Hallam and Robert Took and the four actor-musicians show great versatility to deftly switch between multiple rôles. Reactions to events are deliberately melodramatic, with exaggerated physical movements and dramatic ally posed exits that all add to the comic effect.
Beyond the Veil is not quite what you would call a musical but Conrad Nelson has composed a number of catchy tunes to accompany the storytelling, with witty lyrics by scriptwriter Deborah McAndrew. The Drone, a memorable song about the life of the male honeybee, is very funny and a particular highlight.
A beekeeper herself, McAndrew takes the opportunity to educate the audience on the subject and her passion clearly shines through. By relating the behaviour of the bees to that of the human characters it helps to shed light on whodunnit and ensures that the audience’s attention is rewarded.
Beyond the Veil is undoubtedly unique, successfully achieving the difficult task of being both enjoyable and educational. If you’re looking for a light-hearted evening’s entertainment make a beeline for Beyond the Veil. You’ll certainly leave with a smile and who knows, you might even depart as a budding apiarist.