Our January production this year is an exciting mix of puzzles, espionage and mystery. Set in wartime, in a drawing room in Bletchley Park, it uses a mixture of story-driven narrative, on-stage performances and evidence-based puzzles. The audience have to put all the pieces together to find who stole the secret plans of a wartime mission.
May 1944, in the midst of World War II, a traitor has been discovered on the advancing front-line in Europe. Plans are being leaked and “Operation Verrater” has been devised by the War Cabinet in Whitehall to smoke this person out. At Bletchley Park, the various heads of the three armed forces have joined together with the Minister in charge of the operation, to put the plan into action. However, little do they know that the actual traitor is not on the front-line, something made very clear to them when the plans go missing.
The performance aspect of this production consists of 5 scenes, each of about 10 minutes in length. Between each performed scene the audience, sat at tables in the hall, will have 10 minutes to piece together evidence from the investigation, delivered to them by a front-of-house team acting as aides to the investigation. A new set of evidence is delivered between each scene.
There will be six performances of this production – four in our usual spots of 7:45pm on the Friday and Saturday of January 20th, 21st and 27th, 28th – and two matinee performances on the Saturday afternoons (21st and 28th), likely to be at 2:30pm.
The play has been written by and will be directed by Phil Collins. It was conceived as an idea during an MDS Creative Writing workshop a few years ago, held by Paula Stenson.
The cast requires 2 women and 5 men.
- Martha Foxton-Holmes, the host – a celebrated detective and, at the time of the play, a top-secret advisor to the War Cabinet.
- Elizabeth Dellar, Auxiliary Territorial Service, Cypher Lead (ATS)
- Gerald Mannings, Government Minister (GM)
- Michael Sullivan, Ministerial Secretary (MS)
- Alfred Blackwood, MI5 Intelligence Head (MI5)
- Nigel Gledhill, Naval Chief Officer (NCO)
- Fred Paxton, Air Force Officer (AFO)
Martha Foxton-Holmes, The Host
At the time of this story Martha works as a top-secret advisor to the War Cabinet, at the express request of Churchill. She has earned a lot of respect through her work advising on espionage and spycraft. As the story unfolds she is brought in to help find the plans and discover who stole them. Moving forward some many years, and Martha is now a celebrated detective, however this past case remains unsolved and now, as she begins her retirement, she wants to close off her last remaining cold case.
Elizabeth Dellar, Auxiliary Territorial Service, Cypher Lead
Works at Bletchley Park as a Cypher Lead, in Hut 6, responsible for German Ciphers (Land and Naval Army). Exceptionally intelligent woman with a strong character. Can command a room. Has earnt the respect of everyone with Bletchley, through hard work. This respect is only within Bletchley, outside of this no-one knows of her work, due to its secret nature. Relied on by Martha for assistance during the investigation.
Gerald Mannings, Government Minister
Highly regarded in political circles, seen by many as the next Minister of War, on a career route to being Prime Minister. Responsible within the Government and War Office for this operation. Pulls rank a lot, is quite unfair to MS, often refers to “The Rules” and uses them as a strong guide.
Michael Sullivan, Private Secretary
Working with the GM for about four years, promising career ahead. Came to GM from a role as private secretary for a backbench MP. Has high respect for GM and takes the GMs’ behaviour as water off a ducks’ back. Regards himself as a key part of getting GM up to PM level.
Alfred Blackwood, MI5 Intelligence Head
Original architect of the plan. Has previously been disciplined for his temper, and doesn’t have a great service record. Doesn’t care for Gerald’s attitude, quite belligerent in fact. Most around him have accepted his ways in recompense for him having an astute tactical mind and intelligence prowess.
Nigel Gledhill, Naval Chief Officer
Confident personality, quickly rose through the ranks mostly due to his “gift of the gab”, very much a ladies-man. Currently engaged but rumoured to be having an affair with a member of the French Resistance. He is suave and sophisticated, but he thinks too highly of himself.
Fred Paxton, Air Force Officer
Has been asked to attend meeting at last minute, in place of Air Chief Marshall James Kimber. He has not been involved in any plans of this level up to now. Doesn’t know anyone else in the room, must introduce himself to everyone. Gets easily flustered due to being out of his depth, suffers from imposter syndrome.
Auditions will be held at St. John’s Hall on Wednesday 15th November at 7:30pm. If you would like to be considered for a part, but can’t attend the auditions please get in touch.
We aim to begin rehearsals on 4th of December. Thereafter usually a Monday and Wednesday, with the last of 2023 being on the 20th December, after which we will break for Christmas. Rehearsals pick up on January 3rd 2024.
Please note that all those involved in the January ’24 show will need to be enrolled in MDS membership for 2023/24, which means they will be eligible for all other shows and activities for the remainder of the season!