The Perfect Murder

Any production of The Perfect Murder, Peter James' bestselling novella set in Brighton, was always going to generate interest in its hometown. Throw in one of popular cultures most beloved TV couples, Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, and it would have required a severe weather warning to whittle down the crowds at the door. Thankfully this is a production that delivers almost everything that could be asked of a modern murder story, with a humorous twist.

Simona Armstrong is superbly cast and revels in her role as a psychic Croatian prostitute.

Victor and Joan Smiley have lived on the Sussex coast for the past twenty years and are thoroughly bored and irritated by each other; Joan with his snoring, and Victor with her spending. Shaun Mckenna’s bickering dialogue is sharp and, whilst not highly original, very amusing. Channeling a good deal of Basil and Sybil Fawlty, Wallace adopts a distinctly Prunella Scales-like laugh, as both she and Richie keep the comedy rolling. Joan is engagingly annoying, picking at her husband to gain his attention, and it is a keenly observed depiction of the everyday nastiness that goes on in couples out of love. Ultimately, they just don't want to have sex with each other any more and are successfully exploring alternatives.

Victor has fallen for the Croatian prostitute he visits three times a week and decides that the only way he can be with her is to cash in Joan’s life insurance policy. As a long-standing student of the great murder mystery genre he starts hatching a murder plan, keeping in mind the great question… what would Sherlock do? Suffice to say, all does not proceed as planned.

Simona Armstrong is superbly cast and revels in her role as a psychic Croatian prostitute. Her humorous pauses and facial physicality were the highlight of many scenes. With a dolls house style set by Michael Holt making efficient use of the space, the interior decor contributes to the crushingly mundane atmosphere that the main protagonists inhabit.

As expected from an adaptation of a number one bestseller, the plot is tight; with enough twists to keep everything moving forward, although the pacing of the second half began to drag before we reached the final scene. If you enjoy suburban horror stories, then this is a comedy crime caper that will delight.

Reviews by Julia French

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The Blurb

Award-winning actors Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace star together on stage for the very first time in the ingenious and critically acclaimed stage hit of Peter James’ No.1 best-selling thriller, THE PERFECT MURDER.

Victor Smiley and his wife Joan have been married for a long time. But their marriage has reached crisis point and Victor has decided that there is only one way to get Joan out of his life forever... but he’s about to get a nasty surprise. As a young Detective Roy Grace starts to investigate his very first homicide case, dark forces intervene and he begins to realise that nothing is quite as it seems…

Have you ever wondered how to commit the perfect murder? This highly entertaining dark comedy thriller, directed by Olivier Award-winner Ian Talbot, might just be your answer!

Television and stage stars Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace have famously appeared together in EASTENDERS for more than a decade. Their magnetic partnership has won them both critical acclaim and multiple awards including ‘Best On-Screen Partnership’ at the British Soap Awards.