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Murderous Liaisons - Theatre Royal Nottingham Review

Reviewed by Bliss Warland-Edge
Disclaimer - ticket was gifted in return for an honest review

This summer, Tabs Productions and Nottingham’s Theatre Royal partnered to deliver their Classic Thriller Season for 2023, including light-hearted, classically formatted mystery;titled Murderous Liaisons (or Inside Job), directed by Karen Henson. Tabs Productions’ Murderous Liaisons presents the audience with an efficient cast of only three actors, across a two day time span, as we are fed a number of typical Whodunnit tropes, red herrings and small twists with minimal cerebral challenge in this fun murder plot. 

Jeremy Lloyd Thomas, Lara Lemon and Pavan Maru. Photo by Simon Marper

Mimicking the evening sun that shone the opening night of Murderous Liaisons in Nottingham this Tuesdayupon our curtain reveal, we are welcomed by an expanse of bright 80’s technicolour orange across the stageChoreography in both Acts effectively use the small general living area displayed on stage, including an amusing safe contraption with a spring, hidden behind a frame, all coordinated by Set Designer Conal Walsh. This is painted with a colour palette reminiscent of a traditional Spanish telenovela and is appropriately accompanied by retro 80’s costume design to match (Geoff Gilder).

In true Whodunnit fashion, we are immediately introduced to an archetypal duo- in this case lovers- who allude to the audience that this is in fact an illicit affair. Suzy (Lara Lemon) holds the stage with power and grace, (impressively so, considering she exists in this fiction at all times donning a large Cyndi Lauper bow), presenting an unhappy housewife stereotype but with a dangerous edge. Lemon’s projectionpoise and ability to carry off the 80s puffed shoulders is notable for setting the stage, quite literally, for the play. Soon after, sauntering onto the set in a high-waisted pleated trouser, our Miami-Vice-lookalike Larry (Pavan Maru) enters the stage, with swagger and a London accent that EastEnders casting directors would pay good money for.
Within this initial interaction, we already witness multiple power exchanges between the two and for the eagle-eyed Agatha Christie fan, we may have noticed some early red herrings and clues being dropped, ready to be picked back up later down the line.

Although our initial scene assures the audience they are in for an easy watch, we now have been notified of low stakes wager involving a small heist of diamonds from Suzy’s husband, a secret identity of Larry known as “Dutch” and the early stages of romance between our two young, likeable characters. At this point Suzy’s husband Alex enters the picture (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas), with all the grace of an old drunk, which he is revealed to be. A number of undesirable character traits are revealed to the audience, including racist undertones and that he beats his wife amongst the many consequences of his problematic drinking. With Alex entering the picture, we witness the stakes heighten, as a seemingly loaded gun is fired, bringing life and death into the balance of a harmless robbery. Thomas’ character is notably erratic, inconsistent, threatening and cowardly, some of which could be assigned to the character’s alcoholism, it possibly could be due to a later revealed fact, however, at points, lengthy pauses from all of the cast, coupled with the inconsistencies in demeanour can take the audience out of the presented narrative. 

Jeremy Lloyd Thomas. Photo by Simon Marper
Across the subsequent interactions, the audience begins to question whether statements truly are red herrings, real clues, or possibly ambiguous intonation on the delivery of the lines themselves, as the plot begins to feel a little cyclical and the energy, static. Fortunately, stakes heighten once again in Act 2 with one characters demise, (as they are duty bound within this genre), roping the audience back towards investment in the closure of the tale. At points when the energy has appeared to lull, honourable mention should be given to David Gilbrook in his Sound Design, adding three dimensional properties to the small minimalist set that are three characters exist in, via immersive sound effects, including a bomb, engines and more. 

Creating space for a surprisingly layered, lengthy monologue to aid the plot and an exponential increase in the stakes at hand, Brian Clemens (author) develops an Act 2 that offers greater satiety for our hunger as an audience. Additional highlights of Act 2 also include some heavy handed (possibly unintentionally) satirical exposition, to explain our final plot, as well as a few genuinely surprising moments filling our final moments as an audience with joy and amusement. 

Concluding entertaining thoughts to take away from the play as a whole, is that we see three “deaths” but at least two out of three make it out alive (two out of three ain’t bad), there are a small number of delightful film quotes and tropes weaved into the script, the power plays are nuanced and clever, and finallymany of us in the audience were left wondering how the most effective way to tie someone down with a necktie afterwards!

Murderous Liaisons plays at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until Saturday 19th August. Snake In The Grass concludes the 2023 Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season and runs from Tuesday 22nd until Saturday 26th August. Tickets are available from

Lara Lemon and Pavan Maru. Photo by Simon Marper

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