THE audience at the Wycombe Swan last night alternated between laughter, gasps and even a bit of tutting as an excellent cast brought The Perfect Murder to the stage.

Starring Les Dennis as Victor Smiley and Claire Goose as his wife, Joan, the play is based on the Peter James novel.

The story sees Victor planning to kill Joan, as he is fed up with her nagging, and wants to run away with a prostitute called Kamila Walcak, played by Simona Armstrong, who he visits three times a week.

But Joan has other plans. Sick to death of his brash and chauvinistic behaviour she wants rid of Victor too.

Enter into the mix the handsome Gray O'Brien, who plays a love interest called Don Kirk, and the professional Detective Constable Roy Grace, played by Steven Miller.

The set is very cleverly designed with Kamila's room placed to the back on one side and the couple's small 1960s house on the right, including living room, kitchen and bedroom.

There is no need for set changes here as it is all already on stage.

But the humour is what really stood out in the play.

The interaction between Victor and Claire saw the mundanity of a long marriage come to the fore.

They nagged and bickered and put each other down with very funny lines, but sometimes a tut would come in when Victor took his insults one step too far.

Dennis and Goose played the beleaguered couple extremely well and you could really see how the love had gradually gone out their marriage and they were left wishing for something different.

The audience seemed to be really involved in the action with one woman at one point even whispering, 'Poor old Les' at one particularly funny, yet macabre moment.

I think that is what made the play so great- it made the gruesome and inhumane qualities of the characters quite often seem funny.

And there were a lot more jumpy moments in the second half, which with clever lighting and sounds, they did very well. The audience jumped out of their skins at one point.

Armstrong was excellent as the feisty and disillusioned Kamila and both O'Brien and Miller played their characters well.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable play- it is fast paced, with lots of twists, and keeps you enthralled in the storyline. A great night out at the theatre.

The Perfect Murder is on at the Wycombe Swan until March 15 at 7.30pm and two matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm. Tickets range from £18 to £27, with a £1.50 booking fee. Call 01494 512000 or go to