Review: The Business of Murder at Sheringham Little Theatre

Sheringham lad Steve Banks as Detective Hallett. Picture: AndiSapey

Sheringham lad Steve Banks as Detective Hallett. Picture: AndiSapey - Credit: Archant

If the principle of the 'rule of three' holds that all good things come in threes - three little pigs, three wishes, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, etc - then we have a winning cast of three here.

Of course, many bad things come in threes as well and this could be levelled at the characters in this three-act, psychological thriller.

One: Stone, the aptly-named surly flat owner, local 'grass' and either the perpetrator or the victim.

Two: Hallett, the menacing police detective.

Three: Dee, the pill-popping, chain-smoking, alcoholic writer/journalist.

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All three are quite unpleasant and engage in an increasingly twisting plot built on the intellectual nature of justice - and, of course, the business of murder.

Set in a London flat in 1981 (the period is evoked by the telly running in the background screening episodes of Are You Being Served, news bulletins and trailers for iconic '80s TV programmes), this traditional cat-and-mouse thriller builds around the principle that the end justifies the means.

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There is little action and much relies on dialogue. But the language is often philosophical and discursive threatening to lull us into listlessness.

Thankfully, director Nick Earnshaw successfully cranks up the tension and pace. And all credit to the cast, particularly Joey Herzfeld, from Norwich, who plays a schizophrenic Stone, and seems to be talking continuously (how he remembers all those lines without drying is incredible) bringing some sharp comic touches to what is essentially a tense, edgy drama.

When the laughter dies down, though, you could hear a pin drop.

Sheringham lad Steve Banks as Hallett and, making her professional debut at the Little Theatre, Lesley Ann Acheson as Dee help turn this complicated script into a gripping and believable production making the unpredictable ending all the more satisfying.

This is one of three plays featuring Steve Banks in SLT's summer rep season, a theatrical tradition that is fast disappearing from the provinces. The Little Theatre should be justly proud to be staging stuff like this and 'doing its bit' to keep seaside rep alive and flourishing.

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