Review: Murder by Misadventure at the Devonshire Park Theatre by Roger Paine

THIS summer’s Eastbourne Theatres production gives Gareth Hale and Norman Pace – better known as the comedy duo Hale & Pace – their first-ever opportunity to play opposite each other in a stage play.

The classic whodunnit, which has enough red-herrings to sink a Hastings fishing boat and more twists and turns than the mountain section of the Tour de France, relies on the relationship between the two main characters, award-winning scriptwriters Paul Riggs (Gareth Hale) and Harold Kent (Norman Pace). The pairing of two long-established performers in these roles is the master-stroke of director Chris Jordan who recognised the chemistry they had developed working together over decades, and which is a key element of the play when the scriptwriters fall out with each other.

Kent, realising that he is being blackmailed by alcoholic Riggs, wants to end their successful partnership and plans to murder him.

He believes there could be no better way of carrying out the perfect murder than by using the plot of one of their projected collaborations.

But not everything happens as intended. In addition to the daggers-drawn writers, Sabina Franklyn is Emma, Harold’s long-suffering wife and party to her husband’s gruesome plans, and Tony O’Callaghan plays Inspector Egan, a cleverly crafted caricature of countless stage sleuths, who arrives to solve the murder.

Written by Bexhill resident Edward Taylor, producer of hundreds of immensely successful radio and television shows, the script is a masterpiece of stage writing.

Backed by designer Julie Godfrey’s breathtakingly appropriate set, a luxurious new penthouse flat overlooking the English Channel (an apartment in Meads?) and beautifully lit by Douglas Morgan, the production is perfect summer fare for local residents and visitors alike.

Sit on the edge of your seat in bewilderment, or excitement, but don’t miss a moment of this darkly comic thriller. A five-star production.