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Review: The Perfect Murder at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford
DARTFORD does not get many World premieres, so it was kind of a big deal for The Orchard Theatre that the adaptation of best-selling author Peter James’ The Perfect Murder opened there.
The excitement seemed to translate to ticket sales too, with nigh-on a full house keen to see it.
It is hard to imagine many went away disappointed, either.
In a nutshell, Les Dennis off Family Fortunes is having marital problems and wants to bump off the missus and run off with a psychic hooker.
Les is a grump who is obsessed with planning the perfect murder and humming the theme to Dambusters really loudly every time he thinks about murdering his wife, Mel from Waking the Dead (otherwise known as talented actress Claire Goose or Tina off Casualty or, in this, Joan).
Mel from Waking the Dead has been married to Les – called Victor in this – for twenty years, and neither they nor the audience has any idea why. She’s a bit dim and likes psychic TV programs.
She’s annoyed at him for buying a telly; he’s annoyed at her for buying a freezer.
Both are scheming.
Instead of divorce, which would make for a boring two and a half hours, they both scheme.
As the characters allude to early on, the crime groove is already worn deep with decades of literature, film and television.
So it begs the question, what does The Perfect Murder bring to the party that is new, exciting or different?
We might need to draft in a detective for that because it is not an easy question to answer.
For the most part it is comfortable and like watching a 90s crime drama on TV, but one that is trapped in a few locations - though full marks for set design. The set-up is incredible.
That’s not to say it is not enjoyable.
Fans of Peter James’ work – and there are lots of them – will presumably love the show, giving a glimpse at the iconic detective Roy Grace (played ably by Steven Miller) on his first major case.
It’s a bit like what Endeavour is to Inspector Morse.
The detective’s name also brought one of my highlights of the show, which came just as things were getting properly tense:
“GRACE!” shouts Mel from Waking the Dead. My fingers were crossed, hoping for Sue Johnston to swoop in. Now that would be a twist. But, she didn’t.
I sniggered a bit.
The plot was clever and there were a few twists along the way, with the big one saved for last.
I didn’t see it coming. Some people, like my girlfriend, did. And, to tell you the truth, I didn’t find it all that plausible. For the record, I’d have finished it with painting the spare room.
The Perfect Murder continues at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford until tomorrow (Saturday, January 11). Go to orchardtheatre.co.uk
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