If you take a touch of Agatha Christie, spice it up with the tang of Quentin Tarantino, stir the concotion to give a twist Machiavelli would have approved, add a pinch of guilt, a more than heavy hint of gruesome, mixed all in a sexy wrapping and you have a rough idea of the twists and turns taken in this ‘high-style meets downmarket’ drama set in modern New York and brought to The Queen’s.
You should be. The Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch has done it again. If ever you needed proof that a resident repertory company can serve up entertainment to make sure that missing the telly is a pleasure, then Director Simon Jessop and cut to the chase company has just provided it with Deadly Murder.
As for the cast, this is a two act three-hander with big-name Lucy Benjamin as Camille, a feisty ‘no better than she should be’ celebrity jewellery designer.
Lucy you may know from her five years of playing Lisa Fowler in Eastenders among her many TV and theatre credits. But forget all traces of Lunnun, she was wonderfully believable as a sassy, oversexed, past her prime, mercenary little madam who though all the evening in her scanties, faced by murder most foul, managed to defy expectation. And make us jump.
Tom Cornish makes his Queen’s debut as Billy, a rôle demanding plenty of front, or perhaps it is better expressed as needing bottom. If I tell you more it will spoil the moment. A devious, scheming, manipulative presence, he shocks, amuses and surprises in turn. Big Apple chutzpah
Sam Pay’s surprisingly sensitive seeming Ted brought violence, vulnerability and horror both implied and imposed. Sam is a regular Queen’s actor, being a member of cut to the chase. And so believable when taking control as the Security man.
The dénouement, thank goodness, did not involve simple explanation and a neat unravelling that would set all straight and all would live happily ever after. That would have destroyed the underlying theme.
Oh yes, watch the fish tank: it has a happy knack of signalling the gory bit. Just another bit of Queen’s magic. Like the costumes — just right and never overdone.
The play was written by Brooklyn based David Foley. It shows. The dialogue is sharp and authentic. It was first performed on June 14th 2007 as If/Then for the International Mystery Writers’ Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky. Director Simon Jessop chose it for the spring slot at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch as a play that should intrigue, attract and delight audiences. I think he made both an excellent choice and excellent job of it.
Should you go? Should the Pope be based in Rome? Should the sun rise in the East?
Just one cautionary note: this is intended for adult audiences as it contains some strong language and sexual references. Mind you, you probably hear worse walking through town any day!
Box Office 01708 443333. Deadly Murder runs from 30th January to 21st February
Hear Ros Connors’ review from Gateway 97.8 as broadcast on Dave Webster’s Breakfast Time on Feb 2nd.