"rip roaring tale of greed"
by Jeremy Miles for remotegoat on 07/08/18

The excellent London Repertory Players has returned to the south coast to launching its third annual summer season at Bournemouth’s Shelley Theatre with Constance Cox’s classic killer thriller The Murder Game.

Originally written in 1976, The Murder Game is a neat four hander played out on a single set that’s perfect for the weekly rep genre. With an excellent cast directed by London Rep regular Al Wadlan it proves a worthy curtain-raiser for the month-long Shelley Theatre residency.

Set in a world before mobiles, wi-fi and DNA forensics, it’s a rip-roaring tale of greed and manipulation with a couple of excellent psychological twists in its tail.

It centres around philandering husband Brian Hamilton (Neil James) anxious to rid himself of his estranged wife. The trouble is that his soon to be ex missus, Sheila (Kirsty Cox), is threatening to hang onto the rather nice house they shared.

This isn’t at all what Brian had planned for his future with new lover June (Hepzibah Roe). Handily a mysterious stranger, Gerry Stephens (Musa Trevathan), walks into his life and offers a solution. It sounds foolproof but Brian gradually finds that he has stepped into a nightmare.

With good use of lights and sound and suitably melodramatic music heralding the opening of each act, the production tips a knowing hat to the glory days of weekly rep. The real strength though is in the acting. Neil James is utterly believable as washed-up racing driver Brian scraping a meagre living writing motoring columns while living off his wife’s money.

Kirsty Cox is excellent as the wronged wife and Hepzibah Roe perfect as the young lover - bubbly, enthusiastic and very astute. Finally Musa Trevathan ramps up the tension as the strange visitor who turns out to be a psychotic misogynist with a penchant for exotic knitwear.

The Murder Game runs until Tuesday 7th August and is followed by JB Priestley’s Dangerous Corner which runs from Thursday 9th to Tuesday14th August; Francis Durbridge’s Suddenly At Home which runs from Thursday 16th to Tuesday 21st August and Dead Guilty by Richard Harris which closes the season and runs from Thursday to Tuesday 28th August.

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