THIS was not so much a whodunnit but more a why did they do it.

You know very quickly who has been murdered and there are very few suspects but the story seeks to get under the skin of those involved and find out why there was such a catastrophic end to a family birthday.

The story is set at Lowfield Hall, the home of the Coverdale family in 1978. The curtain rises on a solitary figure who turns out to be the family housekeeper Eunice Parchman played by Sophie Ward.

Her quiet cup of tea is disturbed by the arrival of two police officers out to solve the murder of a family of four. As they review the evidence the story of the past nine months is acted out and the audience is introduced to all the main characters.

There is the occasional red herring as you would expect in a murder mystery but generally the play is an analysis of people and their motives.

A little old-fashioned in its style and the pace of the production was sluggish at times but the play nevertheless entertains.

Miss Ward was the pick of the cast but there were solid performances from Mark Wynter and Shirley Ann Field.

The play continues until Saturday.

Malcolm Rees