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The Perfect Murder stage production: Woking Writers Circle

By [Dermot Hoare

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Les Dennis, well known for his many theatre and TV appearances including Celebrity Master Chef, stars as the diabetic Victor Smiley in ‘The Perfect Murder’, the current whodunnit at the New Victoria, Woking and running till Saturday 12 April. Except that this is not so much a whodunnit, but who dun it first? Dennis and Claire Goose, a well-established TV and stage actress playing his wife Joan, give perfectly pitched and amusing performances – and there is much humour in Peter James’ writing – as a married couple for whom mutual attraction has run its course and only living in the same house appears to keep them together. Indeed, we first see Victor in the arms of an attractive local prostitute, Kamila Walcak, played by Romanian-born Simona Armstrong. She has a neat sideline in psychic powers, and Victor regularly visits her, promising a blissful life together when he collects on his wife’s life assurance. Joan, for her part, is intent on living happily ever after with her lover, Don Kirk, a part Gray O’Brian, probably best known as the murderous factory boss Tony Gordon in Coronation Street, clearly enjoys, after he has helped her dispatch her husband. All praise to Michael Holt for one of the cleverest sets I’ve seen, with its ground floor kitchen and sitting room of the Smileys’ house on one level and an upstairs bedroom and Kamila’s room in the brothel on a higher level. The action moves from one to another as the plot unfurls. But who is going to win the murder race – Victor ridding his wife with carefully stored cyanide or Joan planning to dispose of him with an overdose of insulin? And what part will Detective Constable Roy Grace play – Steven Miller playing the young detective’s first case – and how much will Kamila’s psychic powers help him solve some rather puzzling phone calls? One might also add, “and will he foil the perfect murder?” Well, go and see for yourself. [Dermot Hoare, 9 April 2014]