Anybody for Murder
Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Runs: 2h 0m: one interval: till 17 August
Skulduggery and laughs on a remote Greek island.
It’s a remote Greek island for this week’s skulduggery, in a converted farmhouse, that looks more like a sixties holiday let. Coincidentally, room and furnishing are painted in pastel shades to match some of the costumes – or is it the other way round?
The plot, a splendidly implausible one, nods a bit in the direction of Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun. It isn’t so much a whodunit as a will-he-get-away-with-it, morphing into a whodunwhat. It’s also highly farcical. There are no dropping trousers or vicars: but there are, for instance, the misunderstandings, and the statutory five doors opening and closing all the time.
Then there’s the man digging himself into a hole, but the more he tries to get out of it the deeper it gets. Here that man is Max. A Max crops up in every other thriller, and he’s invariably a wrong-un – must be the Teutonic ring to the name
This Max is beautifully played by John Goodrum, a splendid farceur. A failed chemist, he’s blown the wife’s money on a scorched-out vineyard and acquired a glamorous girlfriend (an excellent Anna Mitcham). Wife Janet (Karen Henson, who also directs), a clingy redhead, has one of those Jonathan Woss/Woy Jenkins-type speech impediments – and, what’s more to the point, fifty thousand smackers coming her way. Thoughts have, reasonably enough, turned to murder.
David Gilbrook and Susan Earnshaw (married in real life), as the Ticklewells, are a sparkling overbearing wife and henpecked husband comedy double act. They’re an avaricious couple in, given the Mediterranean weather, weirdly dated outfits – she wears a thick black dress, and he’s in a thick three-piece tweed suit with an old-fashioned watch chain.
David Martin plays a drunken fourth-rate thriller writer who happens to be on hand, partly to shadow proceedings for a book he’s writing, partly to cash in on an unpredictable outcome.
This is an ingenious comedy-thriller packed with laughs and twists and turns from start to finish.
Max Harrington: John Goodrum
Suzy Stevens: Anna Mitcham
Janet Harrington: Karen Henson
Edgar Chambers: David Martin
Mary Ticklewell: Susan Earnshaw
George Ticklewell: David Gilbrook
Director: Karen Henson
Set Design: Sarah Wynne Kordas
Sound Design: David Gilbrook