New stage show The Perfect Murder received premiere at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford
It was bizarre to me that international best selling crime thriller novelist Peter James had his work adapted for the stage - for the first time - and Les Dennis was cast in the lead role.
To me, the 60-year-old Scouser, who went to the same school as John Lennon, is best known for hosting Family Fortunes.
That's my Les Dennis. Mid-90s, tea on my lap, You Bet and Noel's House Party.
With this firmly in mind, what if it became difficult to shake off the feeling he should be doing his Mavis from Coronation Street impression?
Or getting a stupid answer from doddery old Deidre from Dunstable to ‘name something you do in bed’?
Fortunately, I forgot this feeling once the curtain went up and the play got underway and I saw Les in his pants post coitus.
Anyway, Les Dennis has a long list of stage performances including Spamalot, Chicago, Legally Blond, Hairspray, Art and Skylight.
The Perfect Murder premiered in Dartford’s Orchard Theatre on Wednesday (nice work Dartford) and runs until January 11.
I only know two sides of Les Dennis – his “you could win this family hatchback” and his “I’m gonna end it all” Ricky Gervais-penned persona in Extras and Life’s Too Short.
That down-in-the-dumps meta Les Dennis seems to be on show here, allowing him to slide into character as Victor Smiley, a man far removed from his surname.
A man who abhors his wife and is dissatisfied with life.
Joan catches a snog with Don and Victor is a bit miffed about life.
Having been married to Joan for 20 years, they’ve taken to bickering and throwing insults at each other.
Victor has found love elsewhere and has a plan, a perfect plan you could say, to get rid of Joan and live happily ever after.
It involves a pot of paint and some back-up biscuits if that doesn't pan out.
Unfortunately for Victor, Joan has a perverse plan of her own.
To say any more would ruin the surprise of how to commit a perfect murder.
Joan is played by Claire Goose – known for Tina Seabrook in Casualty and DS Amelia Silver in Waking the Dead.
There’s an assured air of Sybil Fawlty about her character, though less tolerant when it comes to Victor’s humming, his obsession with Sherlock Holmes and smoking cigars.
Other characters include amorous Don Kirk, a ‘cockney’ from Pembury, performed by Gray O’Brien, the former Coronation Street villain Tony Gordon.
Stage actor Steven Miller plays inquisitive Detective Constable Roy Grace and Simona Armstrong completes the line up as Kamila Walcak, a prostitute with a gift to help Victor in more ways than one.
The murder mystery, advertised with a blood-spattered hammer, isn't laden with doom and gloom. It's a black comedy for the most part.
And the sets are very clever too.
It blends the supernatural into the mix, domestic despondency, and the twist at the end - which hangs on a throwaway line at the start - was something I didn't see coming.
To book tickets, click here.
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