CREAGH/CARR REVIEW: Rehearsal For Murder, MK Theatre

Seasoned hackette Bev Creagh and flamboyant newshound Stewart Carr give their always opinionated and sometimes opposing views in The Creagh/Carr Review . Here they reveal their thoughts on Rehearsal for Murder at Milton Keynes Theatre.

Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 1:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 8:03 pm
Rehearsal For Murder

CREAGH SAYS ... We were both looking forward to this - one of the all-time great classic thrillers, adapted from the original screenplay by Murder She Wrote writers Richard Levinson and William Link and starring Alex Ferns, Anita Harris and Mark Wynter.

What a line-up! What a pedigree!

But what a let down!

It failed to measure up on almost every level. There was no pace and pedestrian performances from almost everyone on stage.

Chief culprit as far as I was concerned was Alex Ferns as playwright Alex Dennison mourning the apparent suicide of his leading lady and secret fiancee Monica Welles a year before.

He suspects she was murdered and has gathered the same cast and crew to see if he can work out whodunnit and thus deliver a confession.

But it’s a lacklustre execution from a man who appears almost catatonic at times. Even his accent seems unsure of itself, veering between Scottish and mid Atlantic.

When he thinks he’s found his man and produces a gun, it’s more farcical than frightening - in spite of the loud bangs and lights out on stage.

Anita Harris as producer Bella Lamb is the only real star in this curiously unengaging show. She looks good, sounds good and manages to lift it out of the doldrums every now and then.

But by the time the real (and totally unexpected) murderer was revealed, I’d lost the will to live.

CARR SAYS .... A familiar murder mystery, Rehearsal For Murder pays homage to its genre right down to the letter but offers little in the way of surprise.

I’ll admit to being disappointed, as the Classic Thriller Theatre Company has delivered such jittery, spooky dramas in the past. Last year’s And Then There Were None was one of my favourite shows of 2015.

And yet this is one that failed to fly.

The plot is classic Christie style, with cunning playwright Alex Dennision (Alex Fearns) gathering a group of acquaintances to the theatre of his last show – determined to suss out the killer of fiancee Monica Welles (Susie Amy).

It’s a bit old hat really, with each of the other characters blaring protests at being accused while playwright Dennison is annoyingly smug like a Cheshire cat.

My favourite of any of the characters was glamorous theatre producer Bella Lamb, played by Anita Harris, who at least sounded believable.

But that aside, I found most of the actors quite wooden – delivering lines like a recitation than real life.

I did however, like plucky Welsh girl Sally (Georgia Neville).

Whether it the script, the actors’ lack of chemistry, or maybe just an all-too familiar premise, it’s hard to pinpoint where Rehearsal For Murder goes awry. But I wouldn’t say its big twists are worth the wait.

Rehearsal For Murder plays at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, June 25 See here for tickets.