GARY RYCROFT writes…The Perfect Murder at Manchester Opera House is a new play adapted from a novella by best selling crime author Peter James.

Household names headed by Les Dennis and Claire Goose explore how to commit the perfect murder in the context of an unhappy marriage where the husband Victor (Dennis) is plotting to kill off the wife Joan (Goose) and vice versa.

Part murder mystery and part farce, the play really picked up pace once the audience got behind it and realised it was fine to laugh at the awful deeds being plotted on stage.

There is comedy, a little pathos and shocks galore in a plot that twists and turns and keeps the audience engaged through out.

The Perfect Murder is not high brow theatre but it’s no worse for that. A full house left after two hours 20 minutes of marvellous fun.

I overheard a couple of young women behind me remark after the first act: “I do like the theatre.

We should come more often”. In some ways, it’s the kind of theatre we used to have more of: plays that don’t make us think too much, but which entertain.

In these days of public funding of the arts being slashed it’s heartening that a new company will invest in new dramatic work rather rather recycling sure fire winners, which let’s face it are often musicals.

The staging had a ‘West End’ feel with a clever set moving between the two locations (a drab 1960s house and a brothel) and the use of music and sound effects were subtle yet effective in that there was at least one moment when the audience let out a collective scream along with the many laughs in between.