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Death by DESIGN

by Rob Urbinati

EXTRA Performance Added - 20th November

"Death by Design" by Rob Urbinati is a witty and thrilling murder mystery set in a 1930s country estate. When a group of eccentric characters gathers for a weekend getaway, they find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, passion, and unexpected twists. As tensions rise and secrets unravel during a stormy night, a murder occurs, turning everyone into a suspect. This clever play combines clever dialogue, rich characters, and a suspenseful atmosphere to keep audiences guessing until the final curtain. Join us for an evening of laughter, mystery, and glamour as "Death by Design" unfolds its captivating tale.

"Death by Design"

A Witty and Thrilling Murder Mystery


Step into the intriguing world of "Death by Design," a 1930s murder mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Join us for a captivating evening filled with witty banter, unexpected twists, and a suspenseful atmosphere that will leave you guessing until the final curtain.

This amateur performance of "Death by Design" by Rob Urbinati is performed under license from Samuel French and Concord Theatricals see


programme dbd for web
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Review by Kev Castle - thanks

"Death By Design" by West Bridgford Dramatic Society. The Studio Theatre, West Bridgford.

What happens when you mix the brilliant wit of Noël Coward with the intricate plotting of Agatha Christie? Set during a weekend in an English country manor in 1932, "Death by Design" is an hilarious, delightful and mysterious mash-up of two of the greatest English writers of all time.

Edward Bennett, a playwright or a “platitudinarian” as he likes to describe himself, and his wife, Sorel Bennett, an actress, flee London and head to Cookham after a disastrous opening night. Various guests arrive unexpectedly – a conservative politician, a fiery socialist, a nearsighted ingénue, a zany modern dancer – each with a long-held secret. When one of the guests is murdered, it’s left to Bridgit, the feisty maid with a macabre interest in homicide, to solve the crime.

Tim Farrow plays Edward. There are some great characters in this play and Edward Bennett is just one of them. He is extremely confident in his talents, which is completely at odds with his actress wife's opinions of his skills. Edward is jealous of Sorel's invite to another man to their home that he thinks of revenge, but on who and how? Edward is played with that air of success by Tim, and the formation of his next play by the end is wonderfully envisaged with that light bulb moment.

Sorel is played by Kristina Russell. As a bit of background, Sorel's reviews in The Daily Mail are not as complimentary as she would like them to be, so blames her playwright husband for his standard of character writing i.e. every character seems to be the same person with a different name. She is a real diva and Kristina delivers this script in a wonderfully over the top way. Sorel can also see herself being the murderess, but is she really responsible for this particular person's passing?

Emily Martin plays Victoria Van Roth, a colourful, pretentious Bohemian artist with just the one shaved armpit - don't ask! Wonderfully scatty character who may, or may not be the murderess. Victoria doesn't drink alcohol - normally - but after one or two double Martini's, well, the motive and means may be spilled! Emily plays being "tipsy" really well, and I love that "artistic" Bohemian actions.

Calum Sharp is Eric, an emphatic, fiery left wing activist. Eric's politics are completely at odds with Pearce's but is that enough grounds for murder?

Jack, the womanising chauffeur, is played by Adrian Bacon. Great Southern accent by the way. Jack always looks like he knows something and is keeping it a secret from everyone else. Well, he is but maybe not what you think. The secret comes back to bite him on the backside. Is that secret something to do with murder? There's a hint of the dislike he has for Pearce, but it's not fully revealed until near the end. Is the possible motive strong enough for this chauffeur to drive the victim to their grave though?

Amanda Harris plays Bridget, the wonderfully crabby maid who's magazine of choice is "Tittle Tattle", a true crime publication which drives her ambition to be a detective when Pearce is discovered dead at the Bennett's home. Every character is a suspect, but there is one vital thing that Bridget knows about this matter that know one else does!

Walter Pearce is the politician and is played by Craig Russell. He annoys everyone that he comes into contact with, so there is no shortage of suspects with reasons to get revenge on the way that Pearce treated them. Craig plays this extremely crotchety politician to perfection, building the ire level with each confrontation.

Katie Minns plays Alice who drops in on the gathering in the middle of the night, complete with a gun, aiming to kill. There is a gun shot in the dark and a lifeless body, but surely it's not as cut and dried as first thought?

This is a new play to me but what a brilliant script. There is a running joke in the script to watch out for as well, which is far from vague, Craig, and all adds to the absolute joy of this murder mystery with a brilliant twist at the end, friend.

Directed by Craig Russell and assisted by Alex Cotterill. It's nice and pacy with the comical lines coming thick and fast. It's very over the top, which is how it was written, reminding me slightly of the style that Victoria Wood wrote "Acorn Antiques". There are many laughs. both physical as well as literal, all of which delivered beautifully by this cast, who obviously have a feel for comedy.

The Lighting Design is by Jerome Foley and operated by Dom Gaskell. There's a vital part of the play that requires a level of darkness, but not dark enough as to not be able to provide visual clues to the murder mystery.

Sound Design is by Arran Mackay and operated by Jem Wooley. All the sound cues were hit and as the cast weren't using mic packs - one because the theatre isn't so big as to need the cast to wear them, and two, the cast have good projection skills. All the sound effects were apt and on time.

The costumes are by Carol O' Connor and Adrian Bacon. You would be able to identify the characters' roles and even their personality by the costumes, which shows a lot of thought has gone into the costumes for all the characters.

I love this set, which was my first thought when I walked into the theatre. It set the time period perfectly with the wind up record player and 78 rpms, the art work, furniture and a glorious drinks cabinet and fancy glasses. No spoiler but glasses, in more than one way, play a very big part in the resolution of this extremely comical mystery play.

Production Manager is Robert Dixon.

"Death By Design" will be played out at the Studio Theatre in West Bridgford until Saturday 25 November. A must for anyone who likes the wit of Wilde or Coward, and the murder mystery mechanics of Agatha.


  • A clever and suspenseful plot

  • Memorable characters and their tangled relationships

  • An immersive 1930s country estate setting

  • Moments of laughter and thrilling surprises

  • Intrigue, passion, and a shocking murder

Don't miss this captivating theatrical experience that combines the best of mystery and comedy. Be a part of the suspense and uncover the truth behind "Death by Design."



  • Victoria - Emily Martin

  • Sorel - Kristina Russell

  • Edward - Tim Farrow

  • Eric - Calum Sharp

  • Jack - Adrian Bacon

  • Bridget - Amanda Harris

  • Walter - Craig Russell

  • Alice - Katie Minns


Director - Craig Russell

Assistant Director - Alex Cotterill

Production Manager - Rob Dixon

Stage Manager - Rosie Farrow

Assistant Stage Manager - Lynn Burges

Sound Design - Arran Mackay/Jem Wooley

Lighting Design - Jerome Foley

Props - Charlie Wilcox

Costume - Carol O'Connor/Adrian Bacon

Front of House - Caroline Todd


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