The Business of Murder Review

The Business of Murder – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer: Richard Harris

Director: Michael Lunney


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

This three act, three performer play focuses on a flat in London in the early Eighties. 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?

Gwilym is the saving grace in 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. It’s very wordy and interminably long. Up to the interval, the pace plods along slowly setting the scene, but sadly 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 breath-taking moments of anxiety and no drama. And there should be. The actual 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 use a food analogy, 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. It’s watchable, but underwhelming.

Chemistry between the performers is lacking, and it feels as though the actors have rehearsed separately, but are yet to gel together on stage. In fairness, it is very early in the tour and they may still find the spark that ignites this show. It would be interesting to see whether this production improves as the run goes on.