Confession time. It's not often that I write a review of a play or show the same night it was staged. I usually like to sleep on what I have seen and start fresh the next day....
But after the amount of references in Rehearsal For Murder, which started at Windsor's Theatre Royal Tuesday night, to critics and how they run out of the door to pen their review...it would be rude not to!
Rehearsal For Murder starring husband and wife Robert Daws and Amy Robbins is the first for Bill Kenwright's latest creation – The Classic Thriller Theatre Company.
Having had a fantastic 10-year success with the The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, which sold over two million tickets, this is a new chapter in Kenwright's life.
And a very welcomed new venture for murder-mystery lovers and thrill seekers.
If you are quite partial to a bit of Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote – as I must admit I am – then Rehearsal For Murder will be right up your amateur sleuthing street. Penned by the writers of Murder, She Wrote Richard Levinson and William Link and adapted for stage by David Rogers it has all the trappings of a good old-fashioned thriller. But with some very clever and admirable takes on delivery.
Rehearsal For Murder is a play within a play. Playwright Alex Dennison is left heartbroken when his fiancée and leading lady Monica Welles is found dead from an apparent suicide after the opening night of her stage debut.
On the anniversary of that ill-fated night, Alex assembles the same cast and crew in the same theatre, for a reading of his new play. But as the reading progresses, the play’s similarity to actual events becomes increasingly uncomfortable for the participants, and it soon becomes clear that Alex believes Monica wasmurdered and his new play is a devious cat-and-mouse chase to uncover her killer...
Robert Daws delivers a masterclass in learning and reciting a script. He has an incredible amount of words and lines to deliver and does so in a relaxing and comfortable manner. To keep control and be the central character in every scene is an art, which Daws does with great ease.
How director Roy Marsden re-tells the night of the murder is so clever. Flashbacks on TV are an easy cop-out sometimes, but on stage this has to be done right in front of your eyes. Under Marsden's great direction Robert and Amy Robbins perform a spectacular diversion from current day to flashbacks to a year ago. Amy has an amazing stage presence and Marsden's use of this works well in every scene she is in.
There are some witty references to the world of theatres and acting. Critics get a good bashing as do producers. Susan Penhaligon is superb as producer Bella Lamb and has that lovely authority about her that a classical actor achieves. She is joined by fellow regular members of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company Robert Duncan and Ben Nealon.
If this is a sign of things to come from Kenwright's The Classic Thriller Theatre Company then Rehearsal For Murder is an exciting start.
Audiences love a good thriller, and Kenwright knows how to deliver.
Rehearsal For Murder is on at Theatre Royal Windsor until Saturday. Visit www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk or call 01753 853888.
And if you liked the panto Cinderella then don't miss out on this year's panto Jack And The Beanstalk. Tickets go on sale Thursday. Visit www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk or call 01753 853888.