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The Perfect Murder stage production: Manchester Evening News

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Natalie Anglesey experiences the twists and turns of a play that keeps you guessing right until the end…

Most of us enjoy a good thriller particularly if it has a touch of black comedy and an all-star cast of television names.

It’s even better when you don’t know the plot because you genuinely have to keep guessing what the ending will be.

The Perfect Murder, by internationally- renowned, best-selling crime novelist Peter James fits the bill exactly as it spent 15 weeks at No.1 in the book charts. Indeed this is the first time the famous crime writer, with sales of over 15 million books in his Detective Roy Grace series, has allowed one of his novels to be adapted for the stage and he appeared very happy at the reception.

Gray O’Brien is practically unrecognisable as Don Kirk, Joan’s muscular lover with a beard, a swaggering walk and a nice line in rhyming slang which gets most of the well-deserved laughs

Adapted by award – winning writer Shaun McKenna, it’s directed by Olivier Award winner Ian Talbot. It stars popular entertainer turned actor Les Dennis, who recently played King Arthur in Spamalot in the West End. His other theatre credits include Chicago, Legally Blond, Hairspray, Art and Skylight while on television we’ve seen him in Extras and Life’s Too Short . After this tour he’ll return to Coronation Street where he’ll join the cast of the long-running television series.

Les is joined on stage by Claire Goose (Waking the Dead, Casualty, The Bill) . They play Victor Smiley and his wife Joan who’ve been married for twenty years. Secretly bored with one another they’re finding solace elsewhere. The marriage has reached crisis point and Les ( Smiley by name, Smiley by nature) turns in a menacing performance as he decides there’s only one way to get rid of Joan forever.

Award-winning Gray O’Brien, who played murderer Tony Gordon in Coronation Street, has also starred in television series Titanic, Peak Practice and Casualty as well as appearing on the West End stage in Sleuth. He’s practically unrecognisable as Don Kirk, Joan’s muscular lover with a beard, a swaggering walk and a nice line in rhyming slang which gets most of the well-deserved laughs.

Steven Miller, who appeared as Lenny Lyons for three years in Casualty and whose theatre credits include The Lord of The Rings in London and the excellent Blackwatch, is convincing as Detective Constable Roy Grace and Simona Armstrong is the psychic hooker Kamila.

There are enough twists and turns, as well as shocks and laughs, in this thriller to keep any murder/mystery fans guessing the outcome.

A cracking night out at the Opera House until 19 April.