Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Can you solve the perfect murder?
The Perfect Murder is far from an open and shut case. It's a murder mystery with twists, turns and most prominently humour.
Penned by crime author Peter James and converted to stage, this play is an above-average who-dunnit that features The novelist's famous Detective Roy Grace.
Les Dennis stars in The Perfect Murder
I caught the show early in its UK tour at Malvern Theatres and it continues on to stop off elsewhere including Coventry's Belgrade Theatre, King's Theatre in Glasgow, Cambridge Arts Theatre, Opera House, Manchester, and Richmond Theatre.
The play features a cast of TV favourites led by Les Dennis, Claire Goose (from crime thriller Waking the Dead) and Gray O'Brien (Casualty and Peak Practice), who are backed up by Steven Miller (Casualty) and Simona Armstrong - a finalist in singing reality show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
The stage is split between the home of an unhappily married couple - Victor and Joan Smiley (Les Dennis and Claire Goose who wonderfully bicker throughout) - and a brothel in Brighton, where Victor regularly visits eastern European prostitute Kamila. She in turn is getting separate visits from police detective Grace as her psychic abilities are helping to solve murders in the area.
It's a good introduction to the detective as this story is about his first homicide case as a young policeman.
It may seem a little slow to get going but all the foundations are being laid for what will ultimately be revealed as the "perfect murder".
However, be warned, there are some plot holes if you delve too deeply into the hows and realistic probability of everything taking place, but it bubbles along nicely to be a gentle, entertaining, above-average mystery.
Claire Goose is excellent in The Perfect Murder
The script also has some nice touches by name-checking popular culture when murder mystery-obsessed Victor bemoans the CSIs and NCIS' of America against his beloved UK television detectives.
He even lives by the rule "WWSD" (What would Sherlock Do?), while his wife is more interested in the new Sherlock Holmes for his "nice bum".
Talking about detectives, Steven Miller, who played Dr Lenny Lyons in Casualty, splendidly hits just the right note as the serious, arduous copper, Det Grace, in this tale. He comes across as admirable and dutiful in equal measure.
All in all, if you like a murder mystery, then you won't go wrong with this witty piece of theatre. Case closed.
Steven Miller is convincing as admirable Det Roy Grace
The Perfect Murder
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry - February 24 - March 1
024 7655 3055