Rehearsal for Murder review at Richmond Theatre, London – ‘formulaic, but pleasing’
If you like a good murder mystery, Rehearsal For Murder is likely to tick a lot of your boxes.
Presented by the newly-formed Classic Thriller Theatre Company and written by Richard Levinson and William Link, the duo behind Murder, She Wrote, it’s a solid whodunnit. The play is set in the world of the theatre with the actors playing actors which brings another layer of interest to proceedings. The cast all play recognisable theatre types, their interactions full of thinly-disguised insecurities.
Lucy Dixon’s character, starlet Karen Daniels, is rather annoying to begin with, with a cliched ‘comedy Northerner’ demeanour; we then see her transform into a well-spoken, cold-hearted social climber with an impressive capacity to deliver withering one-liners.
Despite the murder at its centre, there’s real warmth to the production in large part down to Robert Daws, as playwright Alex Dennison. His performance is incredibly affable and engaging throughout.
There’s strong support too from Susan Penhaligon as a glitzy, eccentric producer concerned about the price of sets, and from Robert Duncan, hilarious as the lothario leading man lamenting the advanced years of his character.
As well as Murder, She Wrote, Levinson and Link were responsible for Columbo and Rehearsal for Murder uses lots of scene-setting techniques that fans of these shows will recognise. It’s a formula but it’s a formula the audience will be comfortable with, and it works on these terms, even if it’s never particularly surprising.