Vaudeville Theatre, London WC2
Opened 13 July, 1992

If you remember that 1970s Brian Clemens TV series Thriller, this clockwork mystery is basically an episode of that, and I need waste no more words on it – or an extended edition of Tales Of The Unexpected, honouring the tradition that the unexpected always follows numbingly predictable paths.

Formula: a successful crime-writing partnership; the cold, calculating one (Gerald Harper) wants to break it up; the drunken, profligate one (William Gaunt) doesn't and blackmails his partner, who is thus obliged to commit the perfect murder. Only, of course, it isn't. Plot and counter-plot, frame-up and counter-frame-up, adulter— ah, but that would be telling, wouldn't it?... this period-piece (however recently it may have been written) clanks along with its antiquated "futuristic" synthesizer score and its particularly '70s hi-tech fascination.

It's often hilarious and sometimes even intentionally so; almost worth seeing, in fact, for Greg Hicks's marvellously idiosyncratic Inspector Egan (a third-act detective inspector! So they do still make 'em like that!) – almost, but not quite. If Taylor set out to write a parody he's succeeded too comprehensively for his own good; and if he hasn't... oops. Who did it? Oh, they all did, and far too much of it, too.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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