Theatre review: Rehearsal for Murder – ‘well-scripted and admirably acted’


While usually at this time of year we are treated to a Christie classic at the Grand, this year Bill Kenwright has brought us Rehearsal for Murder by Classic Thriller Theatre Company. It is written by Richard Levinson and William Link (Murder, She Wrote) in a 1982 US TV drama. It is a whodunit that uses a play within a play akin to Shakespeare’s use of this ruse in Hamlet to reveal Claudius’ guilt.

imageRobert Daws as playwright Alex Dennison has a Prospero-like part that stems from his obsession to reveal the real truth behind what had happened exactly one year before when Monica, his leading lady and bride-to-be, apparently leaped suicidally from the balcony of her flat to be killed on the street below.

All the characters are revealed to have motives, such as the producer played by Susan Penhaligon who could have been insured against financial disaster if the lead actress were unable to appear in the flop of a show. The role of theatre reviewers is also given a damning thumbs down in the way they play with actors’ careers with their often unfair critical outpourings.

timthumb.phpMonica’s death was met with a verdict of suicide but Alex is sceptical and has brought together a cast of ‘suspects’ to prove that it was murder – this is an unorthodox but gripping whodunit. The deceased Monica appears in a ghostly apparel played subtly by Amy Robbins. There is some breaking of the fourth wall that is very effective in bringing us into direct interaction with the proceedings.

Strong support comes from Ben Nealon, Lucy Dixon, Martin Carroll, Holly Ellis, Mark Carter and Gwynfor June who really add to complexity of the perplexing narrative of the show. As well as being a classic example of a well-scripted and admirably acted whodunit there is also an intriguing gaze into the theatrical world itself that gives it almost a postmodern poise and perspective.

Reviewed by Rich Jevons at Leeds Grand Theatre on 5th July 2016 where it runs until 9th July and touring.