Strictly Murder – September 2009


By Brian Clemens

Directed by Ian Dickens

Company: Ian Dickens Productions

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Friday 4th September 2009

A nice twist at the end made this thriller a bit above average. I recognised the set from September Tide back in April 2007; there was a strange raised area at the back, with two steps down to the front of the stage, but only in one central place. Very distinctive. Fortunately, this piece was much better than that one.

Set in Provence in 1939, the play sets up the idea that the young man, Peter Meredith, living in the cottage with a young woman, Suzy Hinchcliffe, is not all he seems to be. There’s mention of some scars on his back which look like wounds caused by barbed wire, there’s speculation that there are German spies operating in France, and he seems to be keen to listen for news on the radio about the possibility of war. There’s an old German guy called Josef who wanders around taking food and leaving flowers and carrying a gun. Is he a German spy, or just an old man still suffering from the effects of his service in the First World War? Then a man called Ross comes calling, having recognised the style of painting that Peter produces, referring to the way his cell had been decorated with them, and Peter is forced to take some drastic steps to stay free.

That was in April 1939, and with the second half we move forward several months. Back in April Suzy had announced that she was pregnant, and Peter had been less than enthusiastic about the prospect. Now a man called Ross turns up again with a woman called Miller, and tells Suzy the story of who Peter really is and why it’s not safe for a young woman to be carrying his baby. He arranges with her to set a trap for Peter but will she be able to carry it out?

The Miller role was being played by Georgina Sutton tonight instead of Sabina Franklyn – a last minute thing, I suspect. All the performances were fine and despite one or two remarkable coincidences it was believable enough, with a bit more depth to the central characters. A good evening out.

© 2009 Sheila Evans at

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