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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

The Mill at Sonning - The Perfect Murder

21st January to 12th March 2016.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Murder at the mill

Not all's as it seems in this dark comedy thriller in Sonning

The Perfect Murder, at The Mill at Sonning, until March 12

The perfect murder? There is no such thing, or is there? Author Peter James in his programme notes for this production tells of a charity dinner he attended where the chief constable of Sussex, Martin Richards, told him: "Perfect murder? Absolutely, it's the one we never hear about."

Further research by James revealed that 250,000 people go missing every year in the UK, out of which 2,500 literally vanish off the face of the earth. According to a police helpline office, if missing people are not found within 30 days, they are gone for good.

Keith Myers' production was crisply paced, atmospheric and menacing, without lacking plenty of humour, beginning with complete darkness and heavy orchestral chords. Appropriate music introduced the short scenes in the first act beginning with Percy Sledge singing When a Man Loves a Woman but soon reverting to the Righteous Bothers' You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'. There were two first-rate performances by Andrew Paul, late of The Bill and Coronation Street, as Victor and Sonia Saville as Joan, living out a marriage that had long gone sour. Their barbs are fierce and savage.

He is obsessed with detective stories, principally Sherlock Holmes although he much prefers the old Basil Rathbone movie character to "that Benedict Cucumber patch fellow". Vic plans to kill Joan and start a new life with Kamilla, the prostitute he visits regularly, played convincingly by Aneta Piotrowska.

Meanwhile, Joan is having a fine old time with her fellow charity worker Don, played by Adam Morris, with an interesting line in cockney rhyming slang. He just wants to get her up the apples and pears and on the needle and thread for a swift Melvin. Sonia Saville's acting becomes convincingly intense as she starts to crumble under the questioning of Detective Constable Roy Grace, a controlled performance by Nick Lawson.

However, as with many of this type of modern thriller, all is far from what it seems. It all moves at a good pace and holds the interest to the end. I did have my reservations about one aspect of the ending, but will not give anything away when I urge people who go to see this play to pay attention in the last scene to DNA and fingerprints.