Murder Weapon, Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield
Doesn’t seem much of a Whodunnit at first - more like an open and shut case.
A newly-freed killer is found standing over a body with a revolver, by the victim’s wife, Diane, and her best friend, the chief constable.
Old-school Inspector Fremont, called to the scene, is keen to get the case over with and the ‘killer’ Charley Mirren locked up.
But Chief Constable Jessica Bligh - played in great deadpan style by Claire Vousden, a veteran of stage and TV shows from Endeavour to The Politician’s Wife - is unconvinced and takes charge of the investigation, to Fremont’s frustration.
Philip Stewart is believable as the confused, mentally-ill Charley - who is put on the spot by Bligh - and doubts start to form, even down to the identity of the dead man.
Nothing is what it initially seems and the script has quite a few surprises - although suspicions about the identity of an alternative killer build before the end of the first act.
The play is initially quite slow-paced, as Bligh tries to tease details out of Charley, which are shown as flashbacks.
But things change after the interval when the action moves up a gear to keep audience members on the edge of their seats.
Charley protests his innocence, blaming an enigmatic character called Dr Blake - who doesn’t seem to exist.
A solid, entertaining piece of theatre from a seasoned cast, which keeps the suspense going to the climax.
One of the actors, former Brookside star Marcus Hutton - who was due to play both murder victim Paul and Constable Walters - was absent and had to be played by understudy Nick Barclay, who did a capable job.
The play continues at The Pomegranate for a further three nights – until Saturday, when there is also a matinee performance.