crime coast

Crimes on the Coast

The Old Rep


Anyone who has followed the Whitehall farce that is Brexit will know that if the British are good at anything, we do daft like no one else, and New Old Friends do daft to perfection.

I first came across them with the hilarious Crimes Against Christmas in Lichfield Garrick’s studio and they are perhaps a tad more sophisticated these days – after all they have been allowed on a stage - but just as silly in this latest adventure.

It is a tale set in a luxury hotel on an island off the English coast populated by a cast of 15, but, sadly, one assumes, the budget only stretched to four actors, plus a collection of poles, coat hangers and stands. It meant lots of costume changes at speeds even Clark Kent would have been pushed to match.

Written by company founders Feargus Woods Dunlop and Heather Westwell, they have managed to make daft interesting way beyond sketch length. It is a script that is amusing, witty and inventive with some deliciously funny crimes against the English language thrown in with its play on words.

References to the beach and a request to focus are two moments that would have even the comatose chuckling as would a brief explanation of the subtle difference between diving and acting when it came to former actress, now wolrd champion diver and always good time girl, Abigail Peavey.

Her great rival is American diver Selina Bellman, while love interest for Major Bryce Peavy, Abigail’s husband, is Rose Wentworth, who bears a remarkable similarity not only to the two divers, but also to the three policemen, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub, moonlighting from Trumpton no doubt. It is not that surprising though as Hannah Genesius plays the lot of them as well as sweeping up, literally, as new maid Maggie McAllister.

It is a lovely performance with part of the fun being that it is the same actor, sometimes leaving by one door and entering by another in seconds, with Genesius doing a fine job with accents and voices, particularly with the three PCs who are all on stage at once.

Major Peavey, meanwhile, who once killed a man - did he tell you that yet? – is up market, old school gallant, when he is not being the eccentric explorer Nelson Cholmondeley who wishes to be left alone, or Irish, hell and damnation, sex obsessed priest, Father Nathan Ginnel, who was not hiding.


Rose and little(ish) Lucien

Peavey’s son is Lucien, who one assumes is a distant cousin of Lord Farquaar in Shrek. Lucien dabbles in not so much black as blue magic, in the hands, and very small feet, of Jon-Paul Rowden, who has a day job as Michael Redwood, drunken lothario and fiancé of the up-market, demure Rose. He lounges around looking for wine, or at least the contents of his hip flask, women and . . . well he is not that bothered about song, much like a wild animal . .  looking for wine, women . . . etc

When he is not in hedonistic mood he runs the hotel as manager, waiter and cushion plumper Alvaro Alcazar, having learned English presumably in Torquay from Manuel, and to prevent him getting bored, the script also demands he arrives as Insp Aquafresh, a dour Scot, to investigate a murda, which I think is Taggartspeak for murder.

And pulling it all together is Artemis Arinae who one suspects to be a distant Dutch cousin of Miss Jane Marple and probably closely related to Hercule Poirot, judging by the accent. She is of course the world’s most famous civilian detective, also known as Ashley Christmas who gives her theatrical charge an enthusiastic life of her own.

Incidentally this is the second coming of Artemis. The original was Crimes Under The Sun which was so successful it came to the attention of the Agatha Christie Estate and, as any civilian detective could see, the title was close to Christie’s novel Evil Under The Sun, resulting in a friendly request to change the name so, as in a typical English summer, the sun vanished over the coast.

I could explain the plot which involves sunken treasure, a dead fiancé, bits on the side, two dead bodies. . . possibly and 15 people on stage at once . .  sort off, but you would quickly get bored, so just go and see it. You won’t be disappointed . . . and for those of you who prefer musicals, there is even a song thrown in as well.

It’s fun, clever, hilarious at times, witty, naughty and above all, gloriously, unashamedly daft with some lovely comic touches. If you don’t guffaw, or at the very least smile, then ask the person next to you to check your pulse.

Directed by James Farrell it causes mayhem at the Old Rep to 05-10-19 and then goes on the run, sorry, on tour.  Find out where at

Roger Clarke


Index page Old Rep Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre