Monthly Archives: October 2014

Review – Peter James’ The Perfect Murder

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Unfortunately I haven’t read Peter James’ popular Roy Grace detective novels, so I turned up to the theatre as a blank canvas for the stage adaptation of The Perfect Murder to leave an impression on me.

Without giving too much away the play is about a marriage that has clearly run its course, with constant bickering between Victor Smiley (Robert Daws) and Joan Smiley (Dawn Steele). So, Victor decides that there is only one way to get Joan out of his life for good, he’s going to kill her, leaving him to run off into the sunset with Kamila Walcak (Simona Armstrong) a hooker he’s fallen for that he visits three times a week. He is of course unaware that his wife is also having an affair with taxi driver Don Kirk (Gray O’Brian).

The first act sets the scene with its perfectly designed stage set on two floors allowing us to view the Smiley’s living room, bedroom and part of their garden which is just outside Brighton in Saltdean. At the same time we can see Kamila’s room at The Kitchen Parlour, a brothel in Brighton. The lighting adjusts between each scene taking you with it mentally and emotionally.

The killer one liners, leaves you hanging onto every word not wanting to miss anything as you sit on the edge of your seat. There was a lot of laughter from the audience in appropriate and inappropriate moments (that might have been me), and from the reaction of the audience most couples were able to relate to their marriage. As funny as it was about 20 minutes into the play I was thinking “We get it, they bicker… now lets get on with the murder!”

By the second half, as the plot thickens Detective Roy Grace (Thomas Howes) starts to investigate the murder case, realising that nothing is quite as it seems. The story quickly picks up the pace keeping you drawn in and focused. The comical aspect of the play was spot on with perfect timing, especially the scene involving black bin bags and duck tape!

Thinking about it, if there was such a thing as the perfect murder, surely there wouldn’t be great novels and plays like this. The Perfect Murder is a great night of theatre, spoiling us with a fabulous all-star cast. I loved the have-they-dunit over the whodunit feeling it gave me.

I would be very interested in finding out how the book compares to the play, although the fact it went straight in a number one followed by spending 40 consecutive weeks in the iBooks top 10, I’m sure the book won’t disappoint.

Runs until Saturday 25th October at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Review – Ellen Kent’s Rigoletto

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Until tonight I was an opera virgin.

All I knew was that Verdi Rigoletto was a love story and the masterpiece they tried to ban. So, I went along to the theatre hoping to be broken down with emotion like Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman.

Rigoletto is based on the play by Victor Hugo, writer of Les Miserables. It’s a dramatic tale of the jester’s daughter Gilda (Alyona Kistenyova) who falls in love with the Duke of Mantua. The opening scene surprisingly is a full-blown orgy in the courtyard, which shows us what a sleazebag the Duke (Giorgi Meladze) is. Gilda’s father Riogoletto (Vladimir Dragos) tries to stop the love affair which leads to tragedy and murder.

As it was in Italian I was grateful for the English surtitles. Although I was disappointed that the screen was so high that I had to either look at the screen or the stage – I would have like to have had both in view, because when I was reading the screen I felt I missed half the orgy although I don’t think words were really necessary at that point! All jokes aside, I think I would have felt the emotion more if I was able to keep my eyes on the opera whilst reading the translation.

Some might have thought the set was a little dated, until you read in the programme explaining that they wanted to keep this production traditional capturing Italy with not only the set but the costumes. At times it reminded me of Disney, as Rigoletto’s house looked like the Gingerbread House from Hansel and Gretel and Gilda looked as sweet an innocent as Snow White, but if that connected with me then it certainly wasn’t a negative.

Alyona Kistenyova’s voice is a thing of beauty and for me she stole the show. Giorgi Meladze was also full of passion, I was shocked when he sung a song that I recognised but that only added to my enjoyment of the production. Vladimir Dragos didn’t quite fill his role for me, although the father daughter duets were fabulous, if your daughter was everything and more as he claimed, then to lose her should have been far more dramatic than it was. Yet, if that’s my only niggle from my first opera then it’s a winner for me!

The story was great and easy to follow, the cast were sensational and the live orchestra was excellent – I would have like to have seen more of the magnificent Golden Eagle with it’s seven-foot wingspan that came on to the stage as well as two beautiful greyhounds, although I’m not sure of the actual point of that. Ellen Kent came out on stage at the end telling us that she was supporting the Greyhound Sanctuary Charity which is wonderful but I’m not sure of the connection to opera.

For anyone scared of trying opera, don’t be because love, anger and heartbreak and can be felt in any language.

Review – The Importance of Being Earnest

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It’s refreshing to see Oscar Wilde’s loved and brilliantly witty masterpiece The Important of Being Earnest have a new freshness to it, with the play directed by Lucy Bailey and material written by Simon Brett.

The “Bunbury Company of Players” are putting on a production within a production which takes place in George and Lavinia’s sitting room, which in Act 1 works  well, you have the affairs amongst the actors, them getting upset over props and ill fitting costumes and of course the usual cucumber sandwich jokes! Once they start to rehearse the play I felt that there was no line between the play and the fact they were putting on a play within a play.

The Importance of Being Earnest is about two men John Worthing (Martin Jarvis) and Algernon Moncrieff (Nigel Havers) who are both pretending to be someone they are not ‘Earnest’, in order to pursue two eligible ladies Cecily Cardew (Christine Kavanagh) and Gwendolyn Fairfax (Cherie Linghi). The story take us on a hilarious adventure where they cross paths with the absolutely fabulous Lady Bracknell (Sian Philips) and Miss Prism (Rosalind Ayres) who has a story about a handbag resulting in an delightful piece of theatre as fresh and funny as when it was first performed in 1895.

From beginning to end the play kept me wanting more, the dialogue was perfect, the all-star cast were sensational even if slighting older than they possibly should have been, but I’ve decided that it just added it its brilliance. It was energetic and playful with non stop jokes and one liners that thoroughly entertained. Lady Bracknell who was the only one that actually reflected her age was born to play this part! Algernon Moncrieff (Nigel Havers) clearly still has what it takes, with his charm and a sparkle in his eye, as does the rest of the cast.

The Importance of Being Earnest is at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until October 11.