ALL ABOUT MURDER: Clemens and Spooner, Theatre Royal Nottingham till 28th August

Nottingham.

ALL ABOUT MURDER: Brian Clemens and Dennis Spooner.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 0m: one interval: till 28th August.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays, 5pm and 8pm Sat. (Matinee 2.00pm Weds).
Review: Alan Geary: 23rd August 2010.

A meta-theatrical caper. It’s a lot of fun.
The Max factor in this week’s caper, sadly the last of this year’s Classic Thriller Season, is applied by Jeremy Lloyd Thomas. Nothing to do with make-up of course: Lloyd Thomas plays Max, the junior partner in a thriller-writing duo that’s fallen on hard times.

We’re in the soft south of England, but not the Home Counties – this isn’t Francis Durbridge. It’s Nigel Forbes’s country house in Oxfordshire; he’s the senior half of the duo.

Besides being all about murder, All About Murder is an interesting piece at various levels. It’s actually a play by two writers about two writers writing a play about two writers writing a play. It keeps you guessing and there’s a nice twist in the end.

Without taking anything too seriously, it’s also highly meta-theatrical: there’s an awful lot of discussion about the thriller as a genre, how it’s constructed and what its conventions are. It leans self-consciously on, and parodies, Dial M for Murder and Deathtrap, each of which has featured in previous Thriller Seasons.

Lloyd Thomas’s portrayal of Max is outstanding. His character is whining, obsequious and greedy yet at the same time boyish and enthusiastic. There’s pathos there as well.

Karen Henson’s Ann, blousy and ’orrible, the washed out wife who’s over-fond of the drink, is splendidly done. There’s a marvellous, actually touching, moment when she reveals her understanding of what scheming husband Nigel (Patric Kearns well in his element) is all about.

Adrian Lloyd-James is the disturbingly odd Inspector. Not only does he drink on duty – cheap-looking lager from the drinks table in the corner – but he’s a thriller fan and he doesn’t proffer identification. Jo Castleton, a very dependable actor, is secretary Jill with a northern accent. The thriller business being bad, she has remarkably little secretarial work to do, but she totters about on high heels and short skirts looking becoming, and plays a crucial part in the plot.

Yet again Nottingham’s Classic Thriller Season, by now an established institution, is finishing on a high note.

Nigel Forbes: Patric Kearns.
Max Goodman: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Jill Prentice: Jo Castleton.
Ann Forbes: Karen Henson.
Detective Inspector Berry: Adrian Lloyd-James.

Directors: Patric Kearns and John Hester.
Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Assisted by: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Lighting Designer: Michael Donoghue.
Sound Designer: Patric Kearns.
Production Team: Angie Spencer.

2010-08-30 17:39:03

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