Review: The Business Of Murder, by Richard Harris, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich until May 23

The Business of Murder by Richard Harris at the New Wolsey Theatre Joanna Higson and Paul Opacic as

The Business of Murder by Richard Harris at the New Wolsey Theatre Joanna Higson and Paul Opacic as Dee and Detective Superintendent Hallett with Robert Gwilym as the strange and creepy Mr Stone. - Credit: Archant

Set in a London bedsit during the early eighties Richard Harris’s psychological thriller gets off to a slow and somewhat plodding start.

The Business of Murder by Richard Harris at the New Wolsey Theatre. Joanna Higson and Paul Opacic as

The Business of Murder by Richard Harris at the New Wolsey Theatre. Joanna Higson and Paul Opacic as Dee and Detective Superintendent Hallett being ensnared in a dangerous business of murder. - Credit: Archant

But be patient, the plot thickens as you would expect from such a distinguished writer whose past glories include The Sweeney, A Touch of Frost and The Last Detective.

By convoluted and spurious means, the creepy ‘Mr Stone’ (Casualty’s Robert Gwilym) first lures Detective Superintendent Hallett (Emerdale’s Paul Opacic) and then television playwright Dee (Joanna Higson from Shameless and BBC’s WPC56) to his rather dreary bedsit.

Stone, in his beige cardigan and with calculating malice, contrives that they meet together but why, and what horrors lurk in the blue trunk that Stone keeps in the cupboard? What could the three possibly have in common? Clearly the business of murder but who does what, why and how is the stuff of the play.

Gwilym does a masterly job with the ingratiating, self-pitying Stone and is hardly absent from the stage throughout, dropping in several humorous asides. Along with his macabre dancing to contemporary music we watch as the unrelated pieces begin to make sense. Dee and Hallett have business of their own and while both actors brought off their individual parts to huge audience satisfaction, there could have been more spark between them.


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The piece occasionally lacked credulity, especially in the lead up to the dénouement, but that could be put down to the difficulties of staging an eighties play in today’s media-savvy world. Occasionally the audience had to suspend belief and just absorb and enjoy the performance, which on the whole was easily done.

Carol Twinch

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