"Not a whodoneit, a whatdidhedo"
by remotegoat reviewer for remotegoat on 07/04/15

I don’t often see a fully dressed set at the theatre. You know what I mean – a set which looks like a real, functioning room, not just a space for the play. It’s expensive, time consuming and very ‘traditional’. But I love it, and this set is very well dressed.
A cutaway wall is used to great effect to show us almost an entire flat: bedroom, living room, alcove kitchen and door to the bathroom in the corner. The wallpaper alone suggests the 70s; glass bricks, Dali’s "Christ of Saint John of the Cross" and the furniture finish the job. This is the vision of designer and director Michael Lunney and it is a perfect one for The Business of Murder.
First performed in 1981, this thriller had an eight year run in the West End. This production boasts a recognisable cast with strings of credits to their names, so expectations are high. We are not disappointed. The direction is as adept as the design and the performances are faultless.
Stone (Robert Gwilym) arranges for Superintendent Hallett (Paul Opacic) and Dee (Joanna Higson), a TV playwright, to meet as if by chance at his own flat. But why has he lured them both there? Who is Stone really? And, what is he up to?
As events unfold we are treated to a series of revelations and suggestions which give us much food for thought. The interval gives space for dissection and discussion: psycho, hitman, avenger? My companion, S, does hit on the truth – but only as one of many possibilities.
In act two, final connections lead to a gripping, truly dramatic climax. Plan and counter plan are revealed and at the final curtain…
The conclusion has satisfied: given closure, to use the parlance of our times; and yet, on reflection we find further layers of possibilities. Like that of The Usual Suspects, this ending can be re-considered and savoured afresh after the event. All the best stories leave us sated yet enjoying a lingering finish.
S’s favourite performance was from Joanna Higson as the most naturalistic, but I don’t look for total naturalism in the theatre. Paul Opacic’s Hallett is as commanding, hard-bitten and arrogant as you could wish any copper to be. The star of the show is Robert Gwilym by virtue of the fact that Stone is the character that intrigues us most. Pathetic, sinister, irritating and funny, Stone offers the most range but really you couldn’t slide a fag paper between these stellar performances.
If you have friends who aren’t sure of the theatre – or just don’t think of going – take them to this. They'll be thrilled.

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