Zena Hawley saw The Perfect Murder at Derby Theatre.

WHAT do two people who have been married for 20 years do when their marriage is on the rocks?

Most couples would consider separation or divorce, but not the Smileys. Victor and Joan opt for a slightly more messy solution – they decide to murder each other. Thus the scene is set for top crime writer Peter James’s play The Perfect Murder.

Starring Les Dennis as a middle-aged husband bored with his life and wife, it naturally has many touches of humour and modern comic references.

Playing his equally bored housewife – she has a lover while he sees a hooker – should have been another television star, Claire Goose, but her part was played very well by understudy Maeve Malley-Ryan on the night I saw the play.

Gray O’Brien, former star of Coronation Street, plays the lover Don, while the prostitute is played by Simona Armstrong – all in all a strong cast.

Ahead of his appearance in Derby, Les Dennis said he was “really enjoying the tour”.

It’s easy to see why – a good plot, fast-moving script and plenty of laughs ensure the play zips along.

There are plenty of twists and turns on the way and, if you have read the novella the play is adapted from, be aware the ending has changed, so you are still in for surprises galore.

Thrillers and crime plays come and go but I suspect this one will be around for a long time to come.