Review: Murder plot is neat and tidy as Les Dennis takes the stage in Coventry

The Perfect Murder, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. On until Saturday March 1. Box office: 024 7655 3055.

Murder is a tidy business; or at least it is on-stage or on the page. For the most part motives, opportunity, weapons, all fall into place in the end, leading to the inevitable conclusion, which is often the point from which we start. So in The Perfect Murder, which dramatizes best-selling author Peter James’s novel of the same name.

Victor Smiley (Les Dennis) and his wife Joan (Claire Goose) are unhappily married. Each of them has a passion for murder, outwardly expressed in their interest in crime thrillers, but inwardly in their plans to murder the other and elope with their respective lover; in Les’s case with Slavic slapper Kamila (Simona Armstrong) and in Joan’s with block-headed hunk Don (Gray O’Brien).

The prospect of an ordinary divorce doesn’t seem to occur to them, probably because they want to take or keep whatever they can gain from the other. Perhaps that’s the appeal of the genre: it’s a familiar situation.

So Victor cooks up a complicated plan involving cyanide and Joan plots to overdose her hubby with insulin. I’m not really giving much away, as the clues are about as inconspicuous as presents around a Christmas tree. True to the form, the plot turns upon a tiny detail, which we probably overlooked at the time.

Every aspect of the show is well organised, as one would expect from this thoroughly professional cast and crew, and the characterisation is strong. As light entertainment, it succeeds and the packed house got their money’s worth.

Nick Le Mesurier