The Jazz Club Murder

Plays

The Jazz Club Murder  is an adaptation of ‘A Matter of Timing’, a short story from the first volume of The Grantchester Mysteries: Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death.

It was first performed in October 2013, at Òran Mór, Glasgow.

You can read a review here

Photography

Sidney-and-Amanda-2
Paul Dodds as Sidney
Frances Thorburn as Amanda
Sidney-and-Amanda
Paul Dodds as Sidney
Frances Thorburn as Amanda
Sidney-and-Phil
Paul Dodds as Sidney
George Drennan as Phil

Opening scene

The Flamingo Club.

As the audience enters Claudette Johnson, a cigarette girl, shows people to their seats, waves and says hello to her friends.

Gloria Dee is talking to the barman as he fixes her a drink.

Claudette gives Gloria Dee a package that may or may not contain drugs. Gloria goes backstage to get ready for her show.

Sam Morris tries to speak to Claudette and is warned off by Tommy Jackson.

Tommy Jackson “has a word” with Claudette

Claudette then goes to the bar, and flirts with the barman before taking up a position front of house.

The show begins. Spot on Gloria Dee singing ‘All of Me’

A girl screams, her voice piercing the treble line of the music. Suddenly the house lights come back on. The mike goes off. The music stops.

GLORIA
What the hell?

PHIL JOHNSON
(with Claudie’s body outside the toilets)

It’s Claudie. Some bastard’s killed her. Call the Police. Lock all the doors. Backstage too. My God. Claudie, Claudie, wake up.

JUSTIN WILD
(emerging from backstage)

Miss Dee. Offstage now please.

GLORIA
Holy Moly, I don’t need this shit.

PHIL JOHNSON
Jesus Christ if I find the bastard that’s done this I’ll kill him right now. Tommy! Come and help me sort this out….

Gloria leaves the stage.

SIDNEY
It was the 30th September 1954 and I was in The Flamingo in Soho. I’ve always liked jazz, which might seen strange but some clergymen have interests outside our calling. Mine? Well they have turned out to be jazz - and murder.

I never intended to be an amateur detective – but I have often found myself in the wrong place at the right time - as I was that night in The Flamingo when Claudie Johnson, the nineteen year old daughter of the owner Phil, ”the Cat” Johnson, was found strangled outside the Gents.

PHIL
You tell ‘em Reverend. I’m too upset to speak.

SIDNEY
(To audience)

Ladies and Gentlemen there will be no more music tonight. Please stay in your seats and wait for the Police to arrive. They will need to speak to every single one of you.

GLORIA
(already at the bar)

Me too?

SIDNEY
I’m afraid so.

GLORIA
How long am I gonna have to hang in this dive?

SIDNEY
The police will have to establish where people were at the time of the murder.

GLORIA
Well everyone knows where I was. Scattin’ away and havin’ a good time. Then it went to hell. (Takes a large drink) No matter how many times this kinda thing happens, it still gets to you.

SIDNEY
You mean this “kind a thing” has happened to you before?

GLORIA
Of course. Aint nothin’ I aint seen. But what you doin’ here Preacher-Man? This place is more devil than Jesus…

SIDNEY
I’m something of a fan of yours. Canon Sidney Chambers. Pleased to meet you…

He holds out his hand. Gloria does not take it.

GLORIA
Cannonball Sidney eh? Like Cannonball Adderley?

SIDNEY
I don’t think so. Not quite in his league perhaps.

GLORIA
You might be right at that. He’s a sax player. Built like a Cannonball. Lives dangerously. You’d like him. I sure do.

SIDNEY
He sounds like a good friend but a bad enemy.

GLORIA
You just spoke the truth preacher. Believe me there’s nothin’ I don’t know bout men who take the law into their own hands.

SIDNEY
Then perhaps you can help in this case.

GLORIA
I’m not sure about that. All I can say is that kid Claudie was a sweet child. She looked after me. I’m sore that she went and got herself killed.

SIDNEY
Can you think why?

GLORIA
Who knows preacher? If a broad gets too friendly with some of the guys who hang round here she has to watch out. She can’t trust no cat. Maybe the kid turned a man down and he didn’t take it too well; maybe she saw something she shouldn’t. Perhaps her Daddy was up to no good. It’s got to be love or money. Those things go together the whole damn time.

Cast

Sidney Chambers:
Paul Dodds
Gloria Dee/Amanda Kendall:
Frances Thorburn
Justin Wild
Daniel Boyd
Phil “the Cat” Johnson
George Drennan
Claudette Johnson
Sarah Macfarlane
Director
Marilyn Imrie