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Review: The Perfect Murder at The Marlowe Theatre

Review: The Perfect Murder at The Marlowe Theatre
Perfect Murder

“Enormously enjoyable, spectacularly spooky and layered with some real cracking comedy”


The Perfect Murder takes place at the Marlowe Theatre this week as the first ever stage adaptation of Peter James’ best-selling novel comes to Canterbury.

Shaun McKenna’s adaptation opened up to a packed crowd on Tuesday, entertaining them with killer one-liners, some spectacularly spooky moments and an incredibly strong cast.

Victor Smiley (Robert Daws) and his wife Joan (Dawn Steele) have been a dedicated couple but as their marriage reaches crisis point, Victor decides there is only one way to get Joan out of his life forever – but he’s about to get a nasty surprise. As a young Detective Roy Grace starts to investigate his very first homicide case, dark forces intervene and Grace begins to fear that nothing is quite as it seems.

The adaptation is perfect and captures the thrill of the James novel, yet translates it into a new medium that’s accessible to a new audience. It’s funny, it’s dark and what surprised me the most was the way the twist at the end was played out. There are real moments of drama, lots of dark comedy with a good amount of thrills thrown in for good measure. Two hours flow by effortlessly and there isn’t a dull moment throughout the performance.

The cast of 'The Perfect Murder' in rehearsals. Photo: HoneybunnPhotography

The cast of ‘The Perfect Murder’ in rehearsals. Photo: HoneybunnPhotography

Both Steele and Daws put their all into their captivating performances, with the support from top-notch actors Howes, Armstrong and Gray O’Brien. O’Brien’s character of Don Kirk is, for me, a cheeky-chappy Cockney (who really hails from Tonbridge) and his delivery of the rhyming-slang one liners is flawless. He has even perfected the ‘Cockney Walk’ and I was so captivated that he could have quite easily been someone who I’d grown up next to in London and not actually been a Scottish actor! Armstrong is a stand-out supporting cast member and her performance of the prostitute “Kamilla” was mesmerising. The two shining stars of the night, however were Steele and Daws, who captured the loveless marriage of The Smileys so brilliantly and gave impressive performances of plotting killers that were actually quite comedic.

With just three rooms on stage to be used for the whole play, it could have been possible that it stagnated or became repetitive very easily – but the first-class plot, impeccable play-writing and top quality cast thrilled me, spooked me and made me laugh in a way that I haven’t experienced in the theatre for a few years now.

Simply captivating, utterly unmissable and very funny. If you don’t catch The Perfect Murder before it leaves the Marlowe, you’ll be committing a crime yourself. 


The Perfect Murder is at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre from Tuesday, September 2, until Saturday, September 6. Performances are daily at 7.30pm with a matinee at 2.30pm on Thursday and Saturday. Tickets from £16 with Discovery Tickets available for students. Call 01227 787787 or visit


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