Grand Theatre, Blackpool
A dead police officer, a killer on the run, and a war on the horizon were all in presence - but there was a distinct lack of ballroom dancing at the Grand Theatre as audiences packed in to watch what sounded like a sinister twist on the hit BBC show.
Strictly Murder follows Peter Meredith (Gary Turner) and his girlfriend Suzy (Lara Lemon) as their idyllic lifestyle in the French countryside is thrown into turmoil during the outbreak of the Second World War.
But more than the looming threat of a German invasion, Suzy fears the man she loves may not be the harmless painter he claims to be.
Could Peter really be an escaped killer on the run from Scotland Yard?
The play is more of a thriller than a murder mystery, set entirely within Peter and Suzy’s rustic kitchen. It is a small drama which carries a strong sense of foreboding as we are given snapshots of the looming war via the couple’s fuzzy wireless.
Turner gives an energetic performance and succeeds in keeping the audience guessing until the very end. The chemistry between Peter and Suzy helps draw the audience into their lives - and maybe wonder why they fell in love in the first place.
Soap opera star Brian Capron is predictably enjoyable as the self-important detective Ross, while Andrew Fettes brings a touch of humour to the play as forgetful German vagabond Josef.
The high-powered superintendent Miriam Miller (Corrine Wicks) was cheated slightly by the script, as she ultimately serves as foil to Suzy, the dainty housewife who dreams of a white wedding. Nevertheless, Wicks brings life to the role, taking charge of the stage with imposing presence.
Nobody could call Strictly Murder groundbreaking. The plot simply isn’t different enough to set it firmly apart from the dozens of other wartime thrillers on both stage and screen. Yet its pacing is pleasant, its actors skilled, and the audience is treated to the twist ending they were all waiting for.
Thriller fans can settle down for an enjoyable evening of twists, turns, and the mystery of a man who may not be all he seems.