MURDER for the Asking, by Derek Benfield, is another success for the Western Players at The Arts Centre. The play is set in the mid-Sixties, in the ground floor flat of a converted suburban house. Simon Crutchley plays the unemployed, lethargic Henry Scrubb, who relies on his hard-working wife Dora (Karen Evans) to earn their keep, until he can find a job. His habit of shoving newspapers with 'situations vacant' under the sofa cushions suggests that he is not trying very hard. But might his recent response to a box number in a newspaper yield some chance? Henry, constantly irritated by Janet, (Ruth Davies) a cheerful, inquisitive neighbour, who pops in often, unannounced, receives another visitor after persuading Dora to go to the pictures.

Surprisingly, the belated but astonishing response to Henry's job enquiry infuriates him. Can the advertiser possibly be genuine? Events take a sinister turn after subsequent news of James Franklyn (Robert Elrick), and an unexpected visit from a persistent detective (John Fisher).

Excellent performances by the cast, including Tony Mander and Shirley Dodson, enhance the mystery. Audiences are puzzled by conflicting evidence and mixed motives, until technology triumphs.

Zena Howarth and Adrian Peace directed this entertaining production that was enhanced by spooky incidental music, and won warm applause from the first night audience.

Murder For The Asking runs until Saturday.

Stella Taylor