Les Dennis delights in thrilling and funny Richmond Theatre play, the Perfect Murder

By Tom Ambrose

There are no two ways about it – the opening of the Perfect Murder is bizarre and you wonder what you have let yourself in for.

But as the play, based on the Peter James novel, progresses, the plot and its characters soon get under your skin.

Les Dennis plays the bitter and twisted Victor Smiley with precision and, in the first scene, the middle-aged moaner is telling psychic eastern European prostitute Kamila (Simona Armstrong) how he plans to murder his wife.

But unlike Family Fortunes, this is far from the Les Dennis show.

Joan Smiley (Claire Goose) is the perfect foil for Victor, always with a comeback but clearly worn down after 25 years of a largely uninspiring marriage.

But when she meets Don Kirk (Gray O’Brien), things seem to be a little brighter.

A series of almost farcical events and double-standards put Victor’s well thought-out plot for the so-called perfect murder in jeopardy.

Things do not go to plan and this black comedy takes an unexpected turn as the audience see Les Dennis being taped up in black bin liners – not something I thought I would ever type.

O’Brien deserves a special mention for the exaggerated yet hilarious delivery of Don, as does Goose, who also seems to have perfected the art of comic timing.

Steven Miller also impresses and amuses as Detective Constable Roy Grace, who is tasked with solving the gruesome murder.

Do not be surprised if after the opening scene you are left baffled, but The Perfect Murder really has it all.

It is an enjoyable thriller which refuses to compromise on comedy as well – it has the perfect balance to which Dennis is pivotal.