Strictly Murder Review
by Jeremy Miles
Lara Lemon as Suzy and Gary Turner as Peter in Talking Scarlet’s production Strictly Murder
By Jeremy Miles
Strictly Murder – The Theatre, Lighthouse, Poole.
With its clunky title – full of murder mystery promise – and a plot that twists and turns with every scene, this classic stage thriller cannot fail to satisfy.
But then the man who wrote it is the late Brian Clemens, the mastermind behind such 1960s and 70s TV hits as The Avengers and The Professionals.
Strictly Murder is a good old fashioned stage thriller from the days when fictional killings (and real ones too) were not hampered by mobile phone technology, DNA analysis and state-of-the art forensics.
Clemens himself once described this as “the golden age of murder” and pointed out that not a single Agatha Christie story would survive if constrained by modern CSI techniques.
So it was that we were able to happily settle down to this production from the excellent Talking Scarlet theatre company without fear of anyone being nicked as a result of a remote criminal database scan halfway through Act One.
Strictly Murder is set in rural France in 1939 and tension is rising as Europe braces itself for the outbreak of World War II. We find English couple Peter and Suzy living in a remote cottage in Provence and earning just enough to keep body and soul together. Their simple lives are thrown into turmoil when it is revealed that Peter (Gary Turner) is on the run. But who from and why?
Turner, best known as Carlos Diaz in Emmerdale, is excellent as Peter, full of barely concealed anxiety and burning on a short fuse, while Lara Lemon impresses as Suzy trying to work out what is troubling the man in her life.
But the real scene-stealer is Brian Capron (Richard Hillman from Coronation Street) as strange police inspector Ross who comes calling with alarming consequences. Corinne Wicks – another familiar Emmerdale face – plays a pushy murder squad superintendent and Andrew Fettes is a simple minded German vagrant with a gun and a head full of confused memories.
Eventually the tissue of lies, subterfuge and betrayal at the core of this story is revealed and so too is the savagery of the coming Nazi regime.
This production of Strictly Murder, directed by Samuel Clemens (Brian’s son) has a plot that never flags but I do take issues with the publicity that describes it as ‘fast-paced’. It is actually a bit of a slow-burner which is one of reasons it’s so enjoyable.
*Strictly Murder completes its run at Lighthouse with performances today (Thursday 16th March) at 2.30pm and 7.45pm