A Murder Has Been Arranged - Altrincham Garrick

THIS 1930’s play gives a theatrical nod to gentler times and it’s essential you bear that in mind when going to see it.

A thriller/ghost story, it’s fair to say the thrills are considerably more gentle than what’s served up on stage and screen today.

Enlyn Williams’ slow burner is however, a beautifully written and well crafted piece of writing that offers no offence and is yet strangely captivating in places. There are some plays that were made for long, dark winter nights and this is definitely one such piece, set in a rambling old style theatre, brilliantly re-created by designer Margaret Norris.

Sir Charles Napier - played by David Baxendale - stands to receive a 40th birthday present to remember in the shape of a £2m fortune. But his dodgy distant relative Maurice Mullins has other ideas and turns up out of the blue to get his thieving hands on the lucre. We’ve been here a million times of course, but it still great fun trying to guess if Mullins will get away with it. The role is also a great vehicle for Anthony Morris, who passes this “driving test” with flying colours.

Morris, consistently impressive, makes a really good bad guy.

There is much to admire in Mike Shaw’s watchable production, including Chloe Malandra as Sir Charles’ fretful wife Beatrice and Fiona Primrose, confident, accomplished and elegant as Sir Charles’ secretary, Miss Groze.

The costumes, made by Mike and the Garrick’s wardrobe team, provided a visual delight and the perfect compliment to Margaret’s sumptuous set.

Until January 26. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - ***