Annette Nuttall reviews Peter James' The Perfect Murder in Coventry
4 Mar 2014
This murder mystery thriller is an adaptation of the Peter James novella The Perfect Murder.
Victor and Joan Smiley live unremarkable lives in a normal suburban house. Their 20 year marriage is stale and loveless with constant bickering. However, Victor (Les Dennis) has a plan: he is going to murder his wife and run away with his prostitute girlfriend, Kamila (Simona Armstrong). Joan (Claire Goose), meanwhile, has been making her own plans to escape with her boyfriend Don (Gray O'Brien). It is down to Detective Constable Grace (Steven Miller) to get to the bottom of it all with the help of the psychic Kamilla, who receives images from the possessions of the dead. The ensuing events unfold with twists and turns which take the evening from thriller to farce and back again.
The play takes some time to get moving while it sets up the motives and clues ready for the more pacey second act. Dennis is both genial and dark as the TV detective loving Victor, while Goose portrays the many aspects of Joan with panache. Although this is a murder mystery, Detective Grace has a fairly minor role.
The inventive set enables the action to flow quickly and seamlessly between the Smiley house and Kamila's bedroom, while the lighting beautifully adds to the atmosphere.
There are plenty of references to popular TV detectives and crime shows and despite the dark subject there are lighter moments, partly supplied by Don's cockney rhyming slang. With a plot that will keep you guessing and some strong performances, this is a thrilling night out.