Paul Opacic and Karan Hassan

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There’s nothing better on a cold late winter/early spring evening than a nice warm thriller, preferably with a cosy murder or two thrown in. And that’s exactly what the legendary Middle Ground Theatre Company have brought to the Garrick this week, a creepy murder mystery just made to order and a capacity audience of Garrick first-nighters came out in force to enjoy it. Michael Lunney’s deft designs evoking the relatively recent past make the play a miracle of period detail of the subtlest kind, not lava lamps exactly but candlewick bedspreads, being able to get through to a police station first time on the phone and smoking! on stage. Not to mention quite a few vodka and tonics being downed by a driver so you can tell it’s before serious breathalysers and bans. I won’t spoil any surprises, suffice it to say that under Mr Lunney’s deft direction the plot of this complex revenge triangle takes more twists and turns than a bent politician’s expense account, keeping the audience guessing right till the very end.
Paul Opacic and Karan Hassan
The glamorous Joanna Higson is quite brilliant in the role of self-possessed thriller writer Dee tricked into a trap she stays blithely unaware of, while Paul Opacic perfectly catches the cuff-shooting swagger of cocky Jack the lad detective Hallett. But of course the star is Robert Gwilym as the chameleon-like Stone, relentlessly morphing from fussy loner to remorseless plotter with supple ease. This is that good old-fashioned staple of the theatre, the well-made play which seems to have nearly disappeared from repertoires throughout the country but is brought to vivid life by this excellent touring company with their fingers firmly on the pulse of what audiences really like. The Business of Murder runs in the Lichfield Garrick Main House until April 4 with a Saturday matinee. For tickets go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com or phone the box office on 01543 412121. Phil Preece

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