Review: The Business of Murder at Sheringham Little Theatre

No-one can accuse Sheringham Little Theatre of playing it just for laughs.

This intense, psychological thriller features in a line-up of comedies, farce and review which form the theatre’s summer rep season.

And it will have you on the edge of your seat as you try and work out exactly what happened – and indeed, what is happening.

A winning cast of three play three quite unpleasant characters: Stone, the aptly-named surly flat owner, local “grass” and either the perpetrator or the victim; Hallett, the menacing police detective; and Dee, the pill-popping, chain-smoking, alcoholic writer/journalist.

All three are engaged in profiting from the business of murder, whether as a bent copper, manipulative TV writer or calculating individual.

In a plot with more twists than a bowl of fusilli pasta, the three protagonists ponder the intellectual and discursive nature of justice.

Set in a London flat in 1981 (the period is evoked by the telly running in the background screening episodes of Are You Being Served, news bulletins and trailers for iconic ’80s TV programmes), this traditional cat-and-mouse thriller builds on the principle that the end justifies the means.

There is little action and much relies on dialogue.

Thankfully, director Nick Earnshaw successfully cranks up the tension and pace. And all credit to the cast, particularly Joey Herzfeld, from Norwich, who plays Stone, and seems to be talking continuously (how he remembers all those lines without drying is incredible) bringing some sharp comic touches to what is essentially a tense, edgy drama.

When the laughter dies down, though, you could hear a pin drop.

Sheringham lad Steve Banks as Hallett and, making her professional debut at the Little Theatre, Lesley Ann Acheson as Dee help turn this complicated script into a gripping and believable production making the unpredictable ending more satisfying and effective.

This is one of three plays featuring Steve Banks in SLT’s summer rep season, a theatrical tradition that is fast disappearing from the provinces. The Little Theatre should be justly proud to be staging stuff like this and “doing its bit” to keep seaside rep alive and flourishing.

-Patrick Prekopp

Sheringham lad Steve Banks as Detective Hallett.

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