A multi-layered play-within-a-play will form the basis of a run of performances staged by the Bishopstone Amateur Dramatics Society next week.

The comedy thriller Murder in Play, scripted by detective fiction writer Simon Brett, will run from Wednesday January 10 to Saturday January 13 at Bishopstone Village Hall.

Tim Finney, 60, who has been a member of the society for 20 years, said: “We are a village of 400 people, and between us we raise enough talent to put on a performance every year.

“A cast of eight, a director, a prompt, a set builder, and somebody doing makeup and hair, all from Bishopstone, and one from Hinton Parva.

“We all look forward to it, and then when we get to this stage, we dread it.

“By the time we get to the play, I reckon we will have put in around 100 hours each.

“99 per cent of the time in the last few years, we have done it without a prompt, though this year it is quite a complex play!”

Following a break last year, the 40-year old dramatics society’s annual play is returning at the start of this year, with tickets at their regular price of £6 – unchanged for the last 20 years.

Helen Browning’s Royal Oak, who are sponsoring the play, are offering pre-show suppers.

And Tim explained that choosing which night of the run to see the performance could make a big difference to the audience’s experience.

He said: “It makes people laugh a lot, usually for the right reasons.

“Personally, I think the best night for watching it is the Thursday – on the Wednesday we’re all nervous, Thursday is the night we’ve cracked it.

“On Friday, we think we’ve cracked it and make a mistake, and on Saturday, we just need a drink!

“Before it you get a fixed-price, two-course supper in the Royal Oak. It’s a whole evening of entertainment – much better than Les Miserables.

“The villages around here support it really strongly, as do people who use the village hall, and friends and family of the cast. We market it heavily through our [Helen Browning’s] restaurants – loads of Swindon people come out.”

The dark comedy sees the cast in the final rehearsal of another play, Murder at Priorswell Manor.

With tension building on the set, fiction turns to reality as a leading cast member is murdered.

Tickets are available for £6 from www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/murder-in-play-bads-tickets-40572696026, or at Helen Browning’s Royal Oak or Eastbrook Farm offices.