Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Murder comedy-drama gets straight to the point

MURDER and suspense: tick. Comedy: tick. Scary drama: tick.

MURDER and suspense: tick. Comedy: tick. Scary drama: tick.

The Perfect Murder is an all-round pacy entertainment which engages from start to finish. It’s slickly delivered, with some well-judged performances and a cracking script.

It also manages to come up with some very funny new cockney rhyming slang. Example: “Has he emptied his Simons?” That’s Simon Cowell ... bowels!

We start with a familiar TV face, Andrew Paul from The Bill, Where the Heart Is and Coronation Street, lying on a brothel bed and announcing: “My wife doesn’t understand me — I’m going to kill her!”

We haven’t been brought there on false pretences, then — no messing, no taking half an hour to get to the point — his character, Victor, and the Croatian hooker with whom he takes his pleasure thrice-weekly talk of the new life they’ll make together on his wife’s life insurance.

Later, back home on a Sunday morning, we learn that Victor’s marriage to Joan stopped being love’s young dream decades ago and each would be glad to be rid of the other... and that’s all the plot you’re getting.

This show is by turns comedic, thrilling, scary and dramatic, and each element fits neatly into the whole — except possibly for one crack about the star of Sherlock, who is called Benedict Cucumber-Patch. That could be pruned with no loss.

Keith Myers, who directed the excellent Boeing Boeing last year at the Mill, is at the helm again for The Perfect Murder. He has a firm grasp of light and shade, action and stillness.

And the author, Peter James, and the stage adapter, Shaun McKenna, have given him a lot to play with.

I’m not sure I’ll hear another line this year like Victor to Joan on their respective jobs: “Ten hours a week at Asda does not compare to being IT manager of the ninth biggest egg box manufacturer in the country!”

Who would gainsay that?

The show is packed with such gems while never getting in the way of the story.

There’s always something happening and it’s handled with the high level of professionalism we expect from the Mill. A real winter warmer.

Until March.

Review: Mike Rowbottom

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