Derek Bernfield was never all that well known in this country, but in England he was a famous actor and an often-produced playwright. You may have seen him in a couple of British TV shows that made their way across the ocean, including “Coronation Street” (he played Walter Greenhalgh for nine seasons) and “Rumpole of the Bailey” (he was Albert Handyside in the first two seasons).
In his 25-year career as a playwright, he wrote some 14 plays. “Beyond a Joke” was the next to last, published in 1980.
It’s next up from Island Players in Anna Maria. It opens Thursday for a three-week run.
The plot has to do with a country house that, for some reason, is the scene of a lot of mishaps. Six people have died there, all in embarrassing ways. When a young man visits the family who lives there, he comes to the erroneous conclusion that family has been killing people. A couple of additional deaths occur during Geoff’s visit. Bodies end up being toted around in wheelbarrows, and when Geoff’s parents visit, one gets stowed in the trunk of their car.
It’s a slightly twisted British farce, complete with a vicar, and accounts from other productions around the country indicate that it’s very, very funny.
The Island Players cast includes Sylvia Marnie, Heiko Knipfelberg, Caroline Cox, Daniel Coppinger, Judi King, Peter Ruscoe, Jeffrey A. Steiger and Sarah Klipper. James Thaggard directs.