Season saves best until last

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Save the best to last, they say, and Murder Weapon, the concluding play in the Theatre Royal’s Classic Thriller season, offered proof.

It would be wrong to suggest it was the standout production, for The Ghost Train and the Durbridge tale were of equal merit. But Jeremy Lloyd Thomas’s performance as principal suspect Charley Mirren was top class.

The play, written by Brian Clemens (The Avengers, The Professionals, Bergerac etc) tells a dramatic, sometimes dark, tale but one laced with humour.

At first, the murder of Paul Tulliver (Andrew Ryan) seems an open and shut case. Mirren is seen with the smoking gun and the body is at his feet. Banged to rights. Inspector Fremont (Michael Sherwin) certainly thinks so, particularly as Mirren has previous for the murder of his wife and children. And it was the cynical, old-school Fremont who put him away.

Lloyd Thomas makes the most of his character – Welsh, petty thief, psychiatric case – and shows what a good actor he is.

Nevertheless, this being the thriller season all is not what it seems, otherwise everybody would be back in the bar within half-an-hour. Fremont’s newly-appointed boss, ex-Army police chief Jessica Bligh (Karen Henson), has doubts and hauls Mirren in for further questioning.

They make a perfect and contrasting double act and, in flashback, another compelling moment is the relationship between Mirren and the psychiatrist who becomes his friend George (Alan Magor).

Throw the widow (Jacqueline Gilbride) into the mix and Bligh’s suspicions soon become justified.

The play works well and the cast, working in bits of business from the month’s previous offerings (references to the Scottish play and the telephones and doorbells from the Durbridge) clearly enjoy themselves.

Adrian Lloyd James directs and the good news is that the Classic Thriller Season team will be back in Nottingham next year.