The Third Policeman reports for duty on the Ogbourne Maizey beat - has a bicycle gone missing?
Transposing an iconic comic novel full of surreal lunacy into a play is one giant step for Irish literature - quite another step is bringing the play for one performance only to a beautiful garden in Ogbourne Maizey - a couple of miles north of Marlborough.
The novel is Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman and the Miracle Theatre Company from Cornwall brings this dramatised version to Maizey Lodge next month. How lucky can Marlborough people be to have such a side-splitting rest from Nordic noir and all those grim cop shows on the telly?
This classic comic novel has been adapted by Miracle's director Bill Scott: "On the face of it, The Third Policeman is a fast moving hilarious thriller, peopled with unforgettable characters who would not be out of place in an episode of Father Ted. But the story keeps veering off into an unsettling parallel universe where time has the habit of standing still."
You might expect a parallel universe in a play that has a lead character called 'Nameless’ - and there’s more fun like that: "Our production delights in O'Brien's wonderful wit and luscious language and embraces his barmy world with lots of physical comedy and cranky music!"
The Miracle Theatre have become a summer feature at Maizey Lodge - as Marion Gordon-Finlayson told marlborough.news: "We have been hosting these plays for thirteen years now and each one is equally well attended. Miracle Theatre have quite a following in the Marlborough area! The whole point is to raise as much money for as many different charities as we can."
And raise money they certainly have. The thirteen productions have raised £1,000 and more for thirteen different good causes from Marie Curie Cancer care through Help for Heroes to The Merchant's House Trust. This year it is the turn of the Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust - the non-denominational charity that helps look after the county's rich heritage of 500 churches and chapels.
One thing is certain - The Third Policeman will be a wonderful showcase for the talents of the Miracle Theatre cast: Catherine Lake, Benjamin Dyson, Hannah Stephens and Ben Kernow.
If you're still wondering that The Third Policeman is really about - so are lots of people - including me! It takes a blunt look at a few of the follies of our language: "What you think is the point is not the point at all but only the beginning of sharpness."
And Flann O'Brien (a nomme de plume - of course) also has some very timely advice for politicians: "...it is a great thing to do what is necessary before it becomes essential and unavoidable."
But as you leave after the play, you may have another question ringing in your ears: "Is it about a bicycle?"
The performance is on Friday, July 14 at Maizey Lodge, Ogbourne Maizey, SN8 1RY. The performance will start at 7.30pm - 'whatever the weather'. The gates will open at 6.00pm for picnics - and playgoers are asked to bring chairs. There will be a bar, coffee, ice creams...and loos.
Photos of the play during the Miracle Theatre's tour are by Kirstin Prisk for miracletheeatre.co.uk and are their copyright. Our thanks for their use - most generous.