cast

Rehearsal for Murder

Coventry Belgrade

****

I like a murder – am particularly fond of Nordic Noir – Wallander and such – but, in Rehearsal for Murder, it’s from the pens of William Link and Richard Levinson, the partnership that brought us Columbo and Murder, She Wrote.

The New York Times, no less, dubbed them the ‘Mr Rolls and Mr Royce of murder mystery writers’.

There’s a neat quote from the play, spoken by main character Alex Dennison (Robert Daws) that ‘the mystery writer takes the audience by the hand and leads them in the wrong direction’.

Alex Dennison is a successful comedy playwright who, after a year in the south of France, sets the scene on an empty(ish) and rather down-at-heel West End theatre stage circa 1989 as he explains to his new assistant Sally Bean (Holly Ellis) the mysterious murder of his fiancée Monica Welles (Amy Robbins) one year ago to the day.

Monica was his leading lady on opening night with their secret wedding planned the next day. Monica features as a ghost in the shadows and as a character with his scenes, playing out the background to her own murder. His characters begin as memories, then made flesh in a complex plot intended to flush out the murderer.

The police have assumed a suicide. Alex is convinced otherwise. He has written a series of scenes for, and invited to read, Producer Bella Lamb (Susan Penhaligon), Director Lloyd Andrews (Steven Pinder), understudy Karen Daniels (Lucy Dixon) and her partner and fellow actor Leo Gibbs (Ben Nealon) watched by Detective Inspector McElroy. Except McElroy is really a resting actor and part-time London cabbie Frank Hillier (Gwynfor Jones).

Each scene provides detail of the potential motives for murder of each of the characters, with the final assessment leaving us in no doubt that Karen and her partner Leo have no alibi and plenty of motive. A final twist, however, is unexpected and amazing and, no, there’s no way I’d let the cat out.

I really enjoyed the play, the scene setting was totally believable, the story really did take me ‘by the hand’, use of lighting and gentle jazz background music adept and enjoyable. Directed by Roy Marsden it runs to 14-05-16

Jane Howard

09-05-16 

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