MURDER WEAPON: Clemens, Theatre Royal Nottingham, till 23rd August

Nottingham.

MURDER WEAPON: Brian Clemens.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 0m: one interval: till 23rd August.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays, 5pm and 8pm Saturday (Matinee 2.00pm Weds).
Review: Alan Geary: 18th August 2014.

Nottingham’s Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season ends on a high.

Nottingham’s Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season ends on a high with Brian Clemens’ Murder Weapon. Undoubtedly the best of the Season, it’s the sort of play that could stand alone in a run of its own, Thriller Season or no Thriller Season.

Clichés of the genre are all present and correct of course: the up-market sitting room, the sofa, the drinks supply, the stylish clothes, the plod in the raincoat and the right number of doors.

But one among a clutch of unusual features is that it has a female Chief Constable, Jessica Bligh, tastefully, and tastily, played by Karen Henson. Another is that it seems to begin at the end. An open and shut murder investigation has just been shut, with obvious wrong ’un Charlie Mirren (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas) on his way down the nick to be charged.

Lloyd Thomas grabs this opportunity to show exactly what he can do as an actor – it’s his best performance for years. Charlie is a well observed low-lifer, a psychiatric mess, a cringing wreck of a Welsh Catholic who’s just finished a ten-year stretch for murdering his wife and two children – this is not always a laugh a line; in fact it’s quite dark. Now he’s killed again – or so it seems.

There are good performances from everyone else, most obviously Henson, and Michael Sherwin as Inspector Fremont, bolshie, old-school working-class and cynical. The interplay between them is one of the delights of the evening, even if you need to turn a blind eye to the unorthodox police procedure.

Along with an understandably implausible plot – this is after all a piece of entertainment – many of the characters are credible. Some of them are involved in am-dram, so there are playful but meaningful references to other plays, especially Equus with its disturbed psychiatrist and horrific crime; but also to the Scottish play, which is where the actressy Diane (Jacqueline Gilbride) comes in.

There’s also a jokey in-house nod to last week’s Durbridge thriller with its telephones and doorbells.

This is enjoyable and compelling stuff. And it keeps you guessing right up to the end.

Jessica Bligh: Karen Henson.
Inspector Fremont: Michael Sherwin.
Constable Walters: Edward Parris.
Charley Mirren: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Hugo: Alan Magor.
Diane: Jacqueline Gilbride.
Paul: Andrew Ryan.

Director: Adrian Lloyd James.
Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Design Assistant: Chris Radford.
LX Design: Michael Donoghue.
Sound Design: David Gilbrook.

2014-08-21 10:34:05

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