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The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery
By David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jr.

Carol Newell and Lisa Beezley

Scenic Designer
Lighting Designer
Costume Designer
Technical Director
Assistant Director
Stage Manager

David McGillivray
Barbara Beckley
Susan Gratch
Debra Garcia Lockwood
Ted C. Giamonna
Hap Lawrence
Laura Widener
Vinita Reish

CAST (alphabetically):

Mrs. Reece
Ceptembre Anthony
Lisa Beezley
Lisa Gates
Joseph Lambie
Carol Newell

The Farndale Ladies: An Introduction

I think it’s no accident that the Farndale Ladies, who can’t seem to perform the simplest task without falling over or breaking something, were created in Great Britain, possibly the only country in the world which discourages personal achievement as vulgar and has made cult out of the heroic failure. Coarse acting, bad movies, and botched out-takes had a loyal following in the British Isles long before the rest of the world recognized their entertainment value, and when Walter Zerlin Jnr. and I decided to make our mark on the Edingburgh Festival in 1975, it was perhaps inevitable that our production of Macbeth, in which the set was accidentally erected back-to-front and an incapacitated witch was pushed round the cauldron in a wheelchair, was an award-winning sell-out, later touring the country to similar acclaim for the next year.

Such was the impact of the Farndale Ladies that they had to make comeback after comeback, appearing in everything from a French farce to a science-fiction adventure. Earlier this year the ladies’ most ambitious production to date, The Mikado, complete with full chorus and orchestra, completed a sold-out run in St. Albans, north of London, and in 1992 Peter Pan will the 11th play to be desecrated by Farndale Avenue ineptitude.

Since the Farndale Avenue plays were first published ten years ago, they’ve proved surprisingly popular all over the world. It seems that, although the Townswomen’s Guild, a group of mainly middle-class housewives who meet to learn skills and raise funds for charity, is uniquely British, there are equivalents, such as Countrywomen’s Associations and Leagues of Women, in many other countries. With only minor adaptations made to the scripts, audiences are now taking that age-old, vicarious pleasure in misfortune throughout Europe and as far afield as Saudi Arabia, Zambia, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. 1991 saw the one thousandth production of a Farndale Avenue play.

The U.S.A., however, is in virgin territory for the Farndale Ladies. None of their plays has been seen here until now. I wonder how the ladies’ hopelessly incompetence will be received here in Los Angeles, which taught the world the importance of Goals and Targets in our lives, and where even if a modestly-talented group of community players were to produce a play with an all-female cast, it would probably cost more than the average West End farce and look as though it had be staged by the director of the Oscarcast.

You may think that no actors could possibly be as unmitigatedly awful as the Farndale Ladies. Perhaps they couldn’t. But if they did exist, they’d come from Britain.

 — David McGillivray

The Farndale Ladies — Their Oeuvre

1976, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomens’ Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth

1978, The Farndale Follies

1980, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

1982, Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue, Si’l Vous Plait

1984, The Haunted Through Lounge and Recessed Dining Nook at Farndale Castle

1986, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomens’ Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery (Revised)

1987, They Came From Mars and Landed Outside the Farndale Avenue Church Hall in Time for the Townswomen’s Guild’s Coffee Morning

1988, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol

1990, We Found Love and an Exquisite Set of Porcelain Figurines aboard the S.S. Farndale Avenue

1991, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Operatic Society’s Production of The Mikado

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