Skip to main content

Review of The Perfect Murder at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I first saw Peter James' The Perfect Murder about two years ago at Milton Keynes Theatre and for some unknown reason, despite enjoy its dark comedy quite a bit, I never committed a review to page. So I felt having now seen it again with a near brand new cast at my home theatre, I thought I better write a few words.

Based upon James' novella of the same name, adaptor Shaun McKenna has created a funny, frivolous and divertingly entertaining two hour comedy thriller. It is never going to challenge the cerebral matter much, but it offers plenty of fun and just a small amount of intrigue.

When I first saw the play two years ago, Les Dennis and Claire Goose took on the roles and very much made them their own. Dennis was a revelation to me and Goose was everything I wanted (the reason I was there to be honest, as I am a big fan). Filling these roles this time are Shane Ritchie and Jessie Wallace, an all too familiar pairing if you are an Eastenders viewer. They fill the roles well creating slightly different versions of the ones I was familiar with, they do however never wuite match the performances set by Dennis and Goose in appeal.

Personally despite the fact that Ritchie has clearly been made up to appear older. I couldn't help but think that there is not a big enough age gap between the two lead actors like there was between Dennis and Goose. Ritchie however plays the miserable Victor Smiley with evil intent very well, while Wallace maintains her obvious hate of him from the outset. Wallace herself mostly maintains the whiny Sybil Fawlty-esq voice perfected by Goose, only a few times slipping out of it.

It was more unexpected seeing someone in the Roy Grace role than the leads to me and although he was very watchable, Benjamin Wilkin didn't quite work for me in the role, never quite having the presence that you would expect of the character. Stephen Fletcher however as Don though was I felt a much better performance than his predecessor, and highly entertaining as the very fake cockney drawn unwittingly perhaps into the events, despite his dropping of pants being an initially foolish move into the situation. Finally Simona Armstrong remains in the role of prostitute Kamila and two years down the line appears to have made this role fit like a perfect glove.

It was wonderful to see Michael Holt's genuinely excellent set again, made up of extremely clever compartments, revealing different parts of the Smiley household and one section portraying Kamila's bedroom.

The play itself is one to place quite firmly in the sit back and be entertained and don't think too much about it. There are quite frankly a few moments that don't or logically can't work. However if you just sit back and enjoy the often witty dialogue and fighting of the unhappily married couple, you can't help but come away entertained. Quite frankly also, we all need a bit of frivolous entertainment in our lives and The Perfect Murder is well up their in the frivolous stakes, and that on this occasion is very much a compliment.

«««½

Performance reviewed: Monday 14th March, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

The Perfect Murder is on at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 19th March, 2016 before continuing its tour. Details can be found at http://theperfectmurder.co.uk/

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…

Review of This Evil Thing at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

This Evil Thing written and performed by Michael Mears isn't my first encounter with a play about conscientious objectors, however, it absolutely is the most detailed in its explanation of the subject. A clear and absolute labour of love from Michael Mears, and an obviously very personal thing for him, it leaves the audience pretty much in its grip for the whole of its 80 minutes.

Almost uniquely, our performer Michael Mears is in the theatre stalls upon entry, observing the arrival of the audience and indeed exchanging conversation at times. It's fascinating to see a performer not only there, but seemingly so relaxed pre-show and as he bounds on the stage at show start, this little nugget proves intriguing in itself.

Michael Mears is a captivating presence on stage, as previously experienced on the same stage in A Tale Of Two Cities and The Herbal Bed, therefore it comes as little surprise that he has a confident ability to make a one-man show work, and so well. With the use …

Review of Blood Brothers at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

A theatre in the east midlands, a thousand people stand applauding and cheering towards a stage where fourteen people stand. There on the stage, they bow, and bow, an inordinate number of times. They depart after a time and the lights come up over the capacity audience.

So did you hear the story of the Blood Brothers show, how people flocked and came to see them play?
Did you never hear about how we came to be, standing applauding the brightly lit stage this November day?
Come judge for yourselves how this night did come to be.

Blood Brothers was a significant show for me back in 2014, being the first musical that I saw live. Hiding up in the upper circle of the Derngate back then, not really sure what to expect, it was it turned out perhaps the perfect show to graduate me from play to musical that I could choose as Willy Russell's gritty and solid story is as confident as a straight play that perhaps any musical is. So strong is the story of the Johnstone's twins, that it liv…