Five-week crimewave a thrilling run at Theatre Royal

THE summer heatwave is a bit hit-and-miss, but a five-week crimewave in Nottingham looks set to be another winner.

That’s with the return of the Theatre Royal’s Classic Thriller Season, a month-long favourite for more than 25 years, which this year is extra-special being extended by another week to feature five cases for fans old and new to solve.

Getting the five-week investigation off to a baffling start this week is Anthony Shaffer’s comedy thriller ‘Whodunnit,’ premiered in 1977, which evokes country house dinner parties of a bygone age as six strangers (they include the usual mix of retired sea captain, society hostess and eccentric archaeologist) gather for dinner at the oddly named Orcas Champflower Manor.

However, any promise of fun and fizz, generously dispensed by a boozy butler, soon evaporate as one by one the vistors are threatened with blackmail by one of the house guests, the mysterious Middle Eastern Andreas Capodistriou, whose money-raising plans come unstuck when he is decapitated just before everyone assembles for dinner.

The late Colin McIntyre’s faithful band of actors (Patrick Kearns, Jeremy Lloyd Thomas, John Hester, Jo Castleton who seems to get younger every year, and Karen Henson) have great fun with this intriguing opener, not least Nicholas Briggs as the unconventional Scotland Yard detective Insp Bowden, whose aim the unmask the motives of the murderer only uncover more deceit and deception, double dealing and doubt.

The season continues next week (Monday 6th to Saturday 11th August) with Francis Durbridge’s tale of intrigue and suspense ‘Murder in the Small Hours’ followed by an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic, ‘Frankenstein,’ which brings an equal measure of murder and terror from Monday 13th to Saturday 18th.

The pre-Bank Holiday presentation is ‘The Final Twist,’ in which a writer’s “perfect murder” play becomes the real thing (Monday 20th to Saturday 25th), while closing the casebook is ‘Shock!’ (Tuesday 28th August to Saturday 1st September) in which Maggie’s birthday party turns into a murderous event for some guests.

Further details of tickets, £9.50 to £19.50, and showtimes can be obtained from the Box Office on 0115-989-5555.

-- Tony Spittles