Who Killed Santa Claus?

Malvern Theatres

****

Written by a well known TV show scriptwriter, this better than average murder mystery has a pool full of red herrings and the most ingenious ending I have seen for a long time.

The clever plot seems pretty formulaic up to the interval but the second act takes the audience down a road of many twists and turns.

It's penned by the expert hand of Terence Feely, who created the 1980’s ITV crime drama series The Gentle Touch and also contributed to episodes of the first series of The Avengers, The Saint and even Thunderbirds.

Feely has set this festive thriller in the 1970s, so the costumes are a delight of bawdy orange and flares for this slick production from talking Scarlet.

The clothes aren't the only comedy as the script is made up of lively sparkling conversation and quips between the cliche of characters.

Set in the home of famous children's TV show prweb Matt and Callyesenter Barbara Love, we join the star as she is preparing for her staff Christmas party but has received a macabre death threat.

There's a chilling voice on her answering machine, but this was unfortunately a little garbled and hard to understand and could do with being made more audible.

As the line-up of suspects gather, it seems that each of Barbara's colleagues from her television show has an axe to grind.

Among them are recognisable former soap opera actors like Kim Tiddy and David Callister, both from The Bill, and Freya Copeland and Gary Turner, who starred in Emmerdale.

Callister as Supt Moore and Copeland as Barbara Love are particularly strong in the most prominent roles, while Michael Cross is a vibrant presence on stage as camp Ray Lacey - very much in the mould of John Inman from Are You Being Served.

This play is a gentle, very watchable crime caper but it will also keep you guessing right up to near the end, and even when you do know who the killer is, there's more surprises to come.

The show's real beauty, however, is the very memorable and unique finale. Worth catching it if you are a murder mystery fan. To 03-12-16

Alison Brinkworth

29-11-16 

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