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Partners in Crime review: Queen's Theatre spy thriller has magic touch

PUBLISHED: 09:37 01 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:39 01 November 2016

Queen's Theatre Partners in Crime production shots

Queen's Theatre Partners in Crime production shots

Mark Sepple

Intrigue, romance and plenty of 1920s glamour are just some of the highlights of the Queen's Theatre's latest offering.

Queen's Theatre Partners in Crime production shotsQueen's Theatre Partners in Crime production shots

Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime is part spy thriller, part love story and part variety show – the show even boasts its own magic consultant.

The play, which opened this week at the Billet Lane theatre, features energetic dance numbers and quirky magic tricks against a backdrop of post-war political instability in Britain.

Adapted from Christie’s The Secret Adversary by Sarah Punshon and Johann Hari, the story starts with ex-soldier Tommy (Richard Holt) and war volunteer Tuppence (Naomi Sheldon) bumping into each other for the first time since the war.

Straight away they find themselves in a scrape, which leads them to launch a “joint venture” in the hope of finding more thrills and adventures.

Queen's Theatre Partners in Crime production shotsQueen's Theatre Partners in Crime production shots

But before they can start looking, they accidentally find themselves embroiled in a complex political scandal which could result in full-blown revolution – unless they alone can stop it.

Despite the complex plot, it is basically just good old-fashioned fun, with ‘plucky’ Tuppence stealing the show as she dives head first into trying to solve the mystery.

Plenty of over-the-top silliness and fast-paced physical comedy, helped by an incredibly versatile and impressive set full of trap doors, stops the storyline being too dry.

And the eight-strong cast frequently breaks the fourth wall, addressing the fact that the storyline might not make the most obvious stage production.

The script is full of “keep calm and carry on” sentiment, and it’s not clear whether this is intended to be delivered with irony.

In the programme notes, Sarah Punshon says she and Hari were inspired to revisit their adaptation in 2013 against the backdrop of financial crisis, inequality and newspapers “full of revolution”.

To me, any gentle satire seems to be left open to audience interpretation.

Whatever your political leanings or views about the state of the nation, Partners in Crime offers jolly japes and lively escapism – something perhaps needed as much today as it was in 1929.

Partners in Crime runs at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, until November 19.

For tickets call 01708 443333 or go to queens-theatre.co.uk

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