The Unusual Suspects

Written by Mark Wakeman

Friday 16th March 2007

Directed by Robin Hall and Paul Millington

The first round of the All England Theatre Festival (Western Area, Southern Division) is usually held at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton. Bench Theatre first entered the festival competition in 2006 and has been a regular contributor ever since.

AuthorMark Wakeman

Mark Wakeman (b 1972)

Mark Wakeman is an amateur author, amateur playwright, amateur actor and an amateur director. He started writing short stories, at the age of 8 and spurred on by positive comments from a teacher, was inspired to write many more. It wasn't until he went to university, however that his writing achieved wider recognition when two of his situation comedy scripts (co-written with Neil Kendall) - 'The Quiet Life' and 'Helpline' were performed by the University of North London Theatre Society. The success of these two works led to a full-length thriller, 'Undue Aggravation' being taken to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1995. Following university, he directed his own comedy 'Terror at Blagg Castle', which was produced by Goggles Theatre Company at Portsmouth Arts Centre in 1996, and Bench Theatre has produced several of his his one-act plays; 'The Unusual Suspects', 'Ice Station Zeros', 'Father for Justice', 'Lonesome Pine', 'Unworkable', 'The Big Freeze', 'Stand and Delivery' and 'The Girl in the Corner' for various 'Supernova' festivals of new writing since 2003.

His novels (as yet unpublished) include works in the detective, comedy, thriller, fantasy and sci-fi genres and he hopes to one day see one of his screenplays for sit-coms, TV detectives or sci-fi/action-spy thrillers accepted by the BBC. As an actor, Mark Wakeman has been performing since he was at school. The first of many acting roles with Bench Theatre was Dr John Jobling in 'Martin Chuzzlewit' in 1990 and he frequently receives excellent reviews. He directed several one-act plays at University of North London Theatre Society and his first directing role with Bench Theatre was 'The Office Party' by John Godber in 1998. As a member of the Soop Theatre Company, he has performed improvisational comedy in their 'Dude, Where's My Script?' shows since 2008.

Wakeman won Best Original Play for 'Stand and Delivery' (2008) and The Madge and Stanley Williams trophy for Best Script for 'Father for Justice' (2009) both in the All-England Drama Festival. Since he joined Bench Theatre in 1990, he has been a member of both the Bench Committee and Artistic Panel, and was Editor of Bench Press for a number of years. Mark Wakeman currently has four cats and lives in Havant.

PlayThe Unusual Suspects

Taking part in a police identity parade is a quick, hassle-free way to keep you in beer money. But not when your partners in crime are some of the strangest characters ever to stand next to each other. Chaos and confusion reign before long.

The Bench Competition Entry

The AETF Logo

This one-act play was staged at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Totton as part of the first round of the All England Theatre Festival 2007 competition. It was first performed in 2003 at Havant Arts Centre as part of Bench Theatre's festival of new writing, Supernova2 with a different cast and director.


DCI MeadowsJeff Bone
CliveLiam Flemming
GeorgeMark Wakeman
KeithDarryl Wakelin
HarrisMartin McBride
TaylorNeil McBride
Miss LanktonCharley Callaway
SydneyEmma Searle


Directors Robin Hall
Paul Millington
Stage Managers Jaspar Utley
John Wilcox

Author's Notes

The character of George in this play first appeared years ago in a videoed sketch made to cheer up a homesick friend. In that, he found himself banned from every restaurant in town due to his arrogant behaviour. He appeared again in a full-length play 'We Love you Don Estelle' which I wrote at University and this time George and Clive were hosting a party where nobody turned up. I always thought he would return again and when I first thought of the idea of someone in a police line up trying to arrogantly solve the crime my first thought was of George Augustus Wainwright Hart.
Doubtless he will crop up again in my future writing as he always gets himself into such wonderfully stupid situations.

Mark Wakeman

Production Photographs