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The Game of Murder (tour – Ilford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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There’s something reminiscent of the 19th century about Victor Leigh’s The Game of Murder. First produced in 1991, it’s supposed to be based on actual events, albeit ones which happened on the other side of the Atlantic and not in Brighton. But its elements of the physiological thriller combined with slightly grotesque characters seem more closely to echo those which inhabit the novels and dramas of Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.
All the actors take their characters very seriously, though the outstanding performance in Bruce James’ production is that of Nick Dutton as Billy, wordless child choking in a frustrated adult’s body. You can feel for the way he is both looked after and looked to be used by everyone around him, a double-edged tool in fact. His main manipulator is Mark (Ross Hugill), a frightening drifter whose dream fantasies and belief in reincarnation are ultimately destructive as well as inspirational.
Perry James (Charlie Kemp) is the fulcrum of the drama, a fashionable hairdresser caught between a bitch of an actress wife and her younger, prettier sister whose in the process of turning from  decorative kitten into sharp-clawed cat. Gemma Bissix manages the transition very well, which eases Kemp’s need to make Perry’s journey from a business man more or less in command to everyone’s patsy credible. Julia Binns makes Anne into a bitch of the first water, secure in her monetary dominance and thus riding for the most lethal of falls.

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