Review: The Perfect Murder

The Perfect Murder UK Tour - Shane Richie as Victor Smiley and Jessie Wallace as Joan Smiley
The Perfect Murder UK Tour - Shane Richie as Victor Smiley and Jessie Wallace as Joan Smiley
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SHANE Richie and Jessie Wallace reignite their special chemistry in this black comedy adaptation of Peter James’s popular 2010 crime novel.

King’s Theatre, Leven Street

Yes, EastEnders’ Alfie and Kat have gone from on screen to on stage, leaving behind the working class background of London’s East End to set up shop as middle-aged couple Victor and Joan Smiley, a couple living in the lower middle-class suburbs outside Brighton.

Behind the facade of their innocent looking two bedroom detached house, however, a murder plot is being hatched. Victor and Joan are sick of the sight of each other, both are sleeping with other people, and something has got to give. Enter psychic Croatian prostitute Kamila Walcak (Simona Armstrong) and mock-Cockney taxi driver Don Kirk (Stephen Fletcher).

The domestic rigmarole worsens when Victor - a dull, pipe-smoking IT manager with a fetish for all things Sherlock Holmes - loses his job.

Joan, meanwhile - a bored housewife who works part-time stacking supermarket shelves - has other plans.

Someone’s going to get it... but who? And when?

Full of witty barbs, this 140-minute production boasts a couple of genuine scares and a twist that, while not entirely elementary, does tie everything up in a nice, big black bag... with Gaffa tape around it.

The compartmentalised nature of the set - the house, brothel and spare bedroom are all neat, individual spaces - give the feeling of a being at a recording in a TV studio.

Indeed, the dialogue, story, and atmosphere are akin to watching any number of early evening, sitcoms and melodramas of the late 70s and 80s - think George and Mildred meets Reggie Perrin as a Tales Of The Unexpected episode and you’ll get the idea.

Make no mistake, though: both Richie and Wallace are on top form. They’re believable as the jaded couple who have endured 20 years of marriage, and Wallace goes the extra yard as the hysterical, lusty Joan.

So, while largely conventional and straight-forward in format, The Perfect Murder is worth seeing for the comedic value, and, of course, Richie and Wallace.

Run ends Saturday