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October 2003
A Perfect Murder
reviewed by Karen Nicholson in The Isle of Wight County Press 17/10/03
(reproduced by kind permission of the Isle of Wight County Press)

A Perfect Murder was perfectly executed by Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society on its opening night at Trinity Theatre, Cowes, last week. A performance of professional standard was enjoyed by a disappointingly small house for this fast-paced thriller, which had as many twists as the life of Jeffrey Archer on whose original story it is based.

Starting with a confession of murder and so looking like a whodunit in reverse, this clever story keeps you guessing right until the totally unexpected denouement.

Under the direction of Jane Maclean, all this was played with such verve that if there had been any justice, CAODS would have been performing to a full house every night.

The plot revolves around the murder of good time girl Carla Moorland in her Pimlico flat. The victim is late but definitely not lamented by self-confessed murderer John Hoskins (Paul Stevens) the mid-life crisis husband who had struck her down after falling into her clutches as a diversion from his monotonous life and loveless marriage.

Paul Stevens struck just the right balance between no pity for Carla and much pity for himself to ensure we had no sympathy for him at all.

Instead he had us shifting uncomfortably in our seats as he plotted with his wife about putting an innocent man behind bars for the crime.

Carole French's portrayal of his wife, Elizabeth, was intriguing. Her blend of fire and ice lifted her away from the stereotype of the bossy, frigid, middle class wife, hinting at depths of past hurt that had made her in to the person she had regrettably become.

I could have cheered at her clever ploy that ensured that her passionless drip of a husband would never stray again, although I doubt if he was ever worth keeping.

Tony Wheeler as investigating officer, Dl Simmons, was a dopplegangerof actor David Jason so his character strongly reminded me of TV detective Jack Frost, right from the moment when he had us in stitches about trying to smoke in a no-smoking office.

Blending a hard head with humour, Tony looked the part and was totally convincing in this role that could have been written for him. TV directors take note.

A Perfect Murder is a demanding play to stage as it calls for three distinct and detailed sets -the Hoskins's living room in Surrey, the detective's office in Belgravia and then a courtroom at the Old Bailey. CAODS cleverly got round this by splitting the stage in two, with lighting directing our eyes to where we should look next. It is a tribute to the company that they managed to confidently portray a murder trial in a courtroom, complete with counsel, court clerk, judge, defendant and witnesses within just over half of the stage and no one knocked anything over.

All this and they plugged a video in too to show us a tape that was to prove incriminating for one mem- ber of the cast and was just one of the many surprises in this excellent show.

KAREN NICHOLSON

 

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