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February 5, 2015
Lucy Benjamin and Tom Cornish.

Lucy Benjamin and Tom Cornish.

The opening spring season production at the Queen’s theatre offered some excellent acting, but I am sorry to say the play’s inferred story line of a gory Tarrantino style American underworld, seemed at times more Monty Python.

It was an unusual play for the start of the year after the departure of Artistic Director, Bob Carlton, and I would not be surprised to hear he may have had a hand in choosing the new season’s works that include; Boeing! Boeing!; The Elephant Man; Hot Stuff and Deadly Murder by David Foley, which is running now until February 21.

It is a three hander with the very welcome inclusion of EastEnder, Lucy Benjamin.

For her debut at the Billet Lane theatre, I must put my hands up and  admit that I have never watched EastEnders. However, my wife and daughter Lara, are avid viewers and their admiration for her role as Lisa Fowler is boundless. I can now see why.

Directed by Cut to the Chase favourite actor, Simon Jessop, Ms Benjamin gave a superb performance in this emotional and at times chaotic play by the New York based Foley.

Her performance reminded me of another Queen’s soap exile favourite, Stuart Organ from Grange Hill.

Both have that inbuilt ability of owning the stage in what ever they do, and though this play seemed technically difficult and perhaps a little rushed, Ms Benjamin delivered a very elegant and thought provoking performance.

Joining her on the debut list was fellow EastEnder, Tom Cornish,  boasting an admirable list of credits from Shakespeare at the Globe to television’s ‘The Hollow Crown’.

Again a good performance with the set requirement of returning to future Billet Lane seasons.

The third player was Cut to the Chase, man mountain, Sam Pay.

An actor with a versatile repertoire, who is at home in most parts, and coped well.

Lucy Benjamin & Tom Cornish (Deadly Murder, Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, 2015) by Mark SeppleI have not heard of Mr Foley or his work before, but the programme notes did lead us a bit of a dance.

With mentions of Tarrantino, New York and American culture, along with hostage situations and Bruce Willis in Die Hard, one could be forgiven for anticipating an evening of blood and gore along with nerve shattering shocks to the system..

For me it failed with too many plot twists and turns and so many revelations flooding scenes by the second, that it became tedious. In the end I really could not give a damn if the victim was the attackers unknown mother or her maid was her sister who drank herself to death.

The ‘violence’ done to the victim (Lucy Benjamin) was more like pass the trussed up body for unseen threats of knife work in the bedroom, deeply intimidating shouted threats on the settee and flashes of insanity with the knife tied to a chair in the lounge and between all this, manacled to some pipes.

We are all painfully aware of the inferred financial threat to the Billet lane venue, but the sceptical side of me is dubious after almost four decades of covering the foibles and party political games from the Town Hall.

Havering Council bought the Queen’s more than five decades ago for the borough and rightly claim it is the Jewel in the Crown which it has supported and nurtured through thick and thin.

Though closure was not actually mentioned it has been inferred by the tactical smoke sent out.

Financial cuts are part or our culture, until May at least and this does have a familiar ring of a death scenario to an unpalatable situation and a take or leave solution to an already long made decision.

But as I said maybe I am being sceptical at what I think is huff and puff.

Deadly Murder is well worth seeing for the acting alone and runs until February 21 with tickets available on 01708 443333.


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