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Rehearsal For Murder

Malvern Theatres

****

WRITTEN by the men behind TV crime classics of Murder She Wrote and Columbo, it's no wonder that this play is a slick, clever whodunit.

It's a cut above many touring murder mysteries with a strong cast led expertly by Robert Daws - a familiar face due to his television roles in favourites including Poldark, The Royal and Outside Edge.

Set in an empty theatre, the premise is that playwright Alex Dennison (Daws), who is grieving the supposed suicide of his actress fiancé, calls together a list of suspects on the anniversary of her death.

Gathering them together for a bogus read-through of his new play, Dennison's real intentions are to reveal each of the characters' motives and unearth the killer.

Based upon Richard Levinson and William Link's 1982  made for TV movie the action moves between flashbacks and the present in a cleverly crafted story.

The script the suspects are reading transforms into scenes involving the victim, played by actress Amy Robbins, who has a natural rapport with Daws, probably as she played his screen wife in The Royal.

There's plenty of other ageing TV names adding fine support too - Susan Penhaligon of Bouquet Of Barbed Wire fame, Robert Duncan from Drop The Dead Donkey, Steven Pinder from Brookside - plus some younger cast members with Ben Nealon from Soldier, Soldier and Lucy Dixon from Waterloo Road.

Adding an aspect of self-awareness to the proceedings, there's references to plays within plays (like The Mousetrap and Hamlet) and it's not until the very end that you realise all the clues were laid out in front of you from the word go.

Under the leadership of Bill Kenwright, this is the debut play for The Classic Thriller Theatre Company. It's a strong start and I'm looking forward to their next production.

Continues until Saturday and will also be at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre from April 4 - 9.

Alison Brinkworth

25-01-16

Rehearsal for Murder will be at The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, from 4-9 April and Coventry Belgrade, 9-14 May. 

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