Corpse!, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Something fishy here. Or is it oniony? Hard to tell, though our noses are telling us something.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Something fishy here. Or is it oniony? Hard to tell, though our noses are telling us something.

Typical of the play, really.

'Corpse!' it's called, but that can almost mean two things in the theatre, and that exclamation mark adds urgency to the double meaning.


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December it may be, but this is not the season of goodwill, let alone brotherly love.

Far from it. All the same, the spirit of Noel Coward with his talent to amuse hovers over the clever, lightweight plot, the even cleverer comments, too good to be true, though we can't help joining in the laughter.

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At the start we are all in the dark, and there are moments when a bit more light on stage would be welcome, if only to cheer us up even more while the mystery thickens.

The scene is London, and the attitude very English with murder mixed with farce, horrors with hilarity, and characters who relish the chance to bumble on while pretending to plan carrying out desperate deeds.

Contrasts enliven the action.

That sordid basement flat where they swig the whiskey that has been swiped is a foil to the posh flat, with a drinks cabinet that seems very odd.

As if that weren't enough, dramatic echoes add irony.

Shakespeare is easy to spot, but isn't Greek tragedy lurking just around the corner?

Just when everything looks as though it might sort out, a constable – no, not an inspector – calls.

Robin Herford directs Gerald Moon's play, and the cast includes Peter Duncan, Colin Baker and Louise Jameson.

They all give every impression of enjoying themselves in this cat's cradle of double crossing and double takes.

t Corpse! continues at the Theatre Royal until Saturday March 29. Box office: 01603 630000.

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