Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Murder with Love - Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Murder With Love By Francis Durbridge
Director and Producer: Ian Dickens
Co-Director: Leslie Grantham
Reviewer: Nicola Chan

Murder With Love – The very title of the play promises mystery and suspense. Prepare yourself for an intricately woven plot and you will not be disappointed!

The story is based around the lives of David Ryder a London solicitor (played by Neil Stacy) and Larry Campbell, a wheeling dealing womaniser (played by Marcus Hutton). Ryder blames Campbell for the loss of his family and obtaining a key to Campbell’s flat he is bent on taking his revenge on the incorrigible Larry. Whilst there, Campbell suffers an apparent heart attack and collapses in front of him. In comes Chief Inspector Cleaver to investigate (played by Leslie Grantham) and discovers that Larry Campbell has in fact been brutally murdered. Ryder now finds himself in serious trouble.

The tale from here is full of twists and turns as one would expect from Francis Durbridge and, as billed, incorporates deceit, suspicion, blackmail and incrimination. It is not until the very end that the unexpected truth is revealed.

Set in the 1970's within two London properties, Solicitor David Ryder’s study and the living room of Larry Campbell’s flat. These two sets make up the two halves of the stage which works really well, allowing the plot to flow smoothly between the two.

The vintage costumes worn by the cast portray the era perfectly with Larry Campbell sporting a white polo neck jumper and his girlfriend (played by Jacqueline Roberts) in black patent leather T Bar stiletto heels. Props such as the SodaStream on the sideboard, the ‘old style’ square white dial telephones and the reproduction red velvet Chesterfield authenticate the 70’s setting.

David North's Lighting design is impressive in the way that it allows the scenes to move seamlessly from one set to the other. There is not the need for very much in the way of sound effects but such as they are prove to be effective.

Solicitor David Ryder, admirably played by Neil Stacy gives a truly polished performance, his facial expressions are priceless! Marcus Hutton plays a very convincing role in the part of Larry Campbell cut short all too soon by his demise.

Leslie Grantham (alias Dirty Den in ‘EastEnders’) plays the part of Chief Inspector Cleaver, a typically down at heel slightly shabby detective. Grantham is perfect for the role, and plays it in his own inimitable style. Philip Stewart is well cast as the somewhat hapless but menacing George Rudd and Jacqueline Roberts gives an assured and powerful performance as the sultry Claire Norman. Supporting cast members play their parts well and the occasional injection of humour gives the play that all important ‘feel good factor’.

‘Murder With Love’ is good old fashioned theatre at its best. A classic Murder Mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end. This production deserves every accolade. An excellent evening’s entertainment. Go and see it!

Murder With Love runs at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday 11th April 2009.
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