’Deadly Murder’ Can Be Fun

New Thriller at Vienna’s English Theater Keeps You Guessing

What would you do if the young man you had picked up at a party and just had a romp in bed with turned nasty and refused to leave until certain demands were met? Call the security guard of your building? Yes, that’s just what Camille, loft-living, jewellery-designing darling of the not-quite-young-any-more, fashionable Manhattan set does at the outset of Deadly Murder…

But the roller-coaster rides of this plot twister by David Foley haven’t even started yet. The plot unravels menacingly, the toy boy seemingly pulling the strings, as Camille is forced to play his deadly psychological game.

Director Julian Woolford offers a well-paced interpretation of this modern thriller, a genre which the author confesses to having been fascinated with ever since TV suppers with Perry Mason (and we all remember those). The challenge for the cast in Deadly Murder is to master the sudden shifts and jolts of the ride from ghastly fear to comic relief without losing the necessary tautness. The knife’s blade is only ever a hair’s breadth away from the jugular vein, and yet we are never quite sure whether we are witnessing an act of atrocity or one more silly joke in a party game.

The characters are skilfully drawn so as to underpin this feeling of uncertainty. Andrew Loudon’s security guard seems to be the epitome of a beefy but bumbling ass, but we discover things about him which make him, too, more than a mere pawn in this seamy set-up. Camille, somewhat raucously but nevertheless convincingly played by Amanda Osborne, the fly caught in the web, draws on her reservoir of resilience to fight the seemingly inevitable, switching like a lioness from captive to predatress, baring her teeth and using all her innate cunning to conquer the situation.

James Le Feuvre, playing the would-be blackmailer with the jejeune charm and, to the likes of Camille, oh so attractive swagger of the underdog, masters the difficult personality of Billy with relish. His dazzling smile turns swiftly into the ghoulish grin of the henchman; he is the archetype young modern criminal whose poor, working-class background provides the breeding ground for envy, hate and  relentless cold-bloodedness.

The thriller draws the audience into that well-trodden psychological territory, the web of the unknown and the known-but-repressed. Denial is Camille’s strong suit, long played to her own benefit; but the trumps have run out – or have they?

In the final resort the play is good, enjoyable entertainment, professionally presented and never dull. The plot is ever good for a surprise, and, as in the best Agatha Christie tradition, the final twist beats them all. The pleasingly unfussy design by Simon Scullion evokes and reveals the lifestyle and values of the centre-stage character.

Thoroughly recommended as a diverting, if un-demanding, evening out.

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