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