The Business of Murder Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 10 February 2015

Middle Ground Theatre Company present Richard Harris’s west end hit The Business of Murder in Darlington this week.

This 3 act – 3 performer play focuses on a flat in London in the early 80’s.  Why has Mr Stone (Robert Gwilym) invited playwright Dee (Joanna Higson) and Policeman Hallett (Paul Opacic) to his home?  How do they know each other? Does anyone care?

Gwilym does help to lift this show.  His dancing to Judith Durham and The New Seekers is a joy to watch and the more manic he becomes the more endearing he gets.  But even the professionalism of his acting doesn’t help this play.  Its very wordy and interminably long.  Up to the interval plods along slowly setting the scene, but without managing to engage with the actors.  And if you don’t engage how can you be entertained? The problem with this production, is that the play, a traditional cat-and-mouse psychological thriller, lacks tension. There are no emotional peaks and valleys, no breathtaking moments of anxiety and no drama. And there should be. ”The Business of Murder” is reduced to a long-winded discourse on the nature of victimization and whether the end of an event is justified by the means of achieving it.

It has all the ingredients of a classic, but to take the food analogy further imagine you were expecting a chocolate cake and were presented with a digestive biscuit.  An edible biscuit but a huge disappointment when you were expecting chocolate cake.  And this is what you have here.  Its watchable but disappointing.

Its as if the actors have all rehearsed separately but have yet to gel on stage.  There is no cohesion.  In fairness it is very early in the tour and they may still find the spark that ignites this show.  In Darlington until Saturday