Claire returns to stage for dark crime thriller

Claire Goose
Claire Goose

Detective Roy Grace steps off the pages to go on the stage in The Perfect Murder.

Grace, the creation of Brighton-based multi-million selling crime writer Peter James, has won a huge following in a series of acclaimed novels set in Brighton.

Now he’s preparing to face an audience of a different kind, added into the mix for the stage adaptation of James’ novella The Perfect Murder which tours to the Theatre Royal Brighton from January 20-25 and then the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, from February 4-8.

Les Dennis (Chicago, Hairspray, Art, BBC 2’s Life’s Too Short) and Claire Goose, (Waking the Dead, Casualty) lead the cast in the tale of a marriage gone horribly wrong.

Victor Smiley and his wife Joan have been married for a long time. But their marriage has reached crisis point, and Victor has decided there is only one way to get Joan out of his life forever...but he’s about to get a nasty surprise...

A young detective Roy Grace starts to investigate his very first homicide case. Dark forces intervene, and soon Grace begins to fear that nothing is quite as it seems.

For Claire, it’s a first return to the stage in nearly a decade: “Theatre has not been a massive part of my career, but that’s been by chance really, just the way that things have gone. The last thing I did was at Watford eight or nine years ago, and certainly from that point of view, this is a big challenge. I am used to working really small.

“I am filming in Dublin at the moment,” says Claire, speaking just before Christmas, “and the things I am doing are really quite minimal. For the theatre, really you have got to try to do the exact opposite, just to translate to the big space. You are using totally-different muscles.

“It’s terrifying really. I don’t know why I am doing it! The 15 minutes before you go on stage, you are just pacing up and down, thinking that you are going to throw up. But once you are on, then you are absolutely fine, you hope! The adrenalin is just extraordinary, and then you come off on such a high.

“In this, I am playing Jane who has been married to Victor for some years. Their marriage has really reached the bottom. They have become very set in their ways. But he won’t divorce her because he doesn’t want her to have a share of any money. And so they are both starting to work out ways out of it all...

“I think it is going to be quite a romp. And it has also got a really nice black comedy to it, which I really love and I know that sounds awful when you think about what is going on.

“Also, I think it is very real. People will be able to relate to this couple. You sense that they did once really love each other. You know that there was a real love there, and there are moments where she wants to give it another go. It’s quite sad that it all goes the way that it does...”

Not that Claire is at liberty to say too much.

“My friends ask me what it is all about, but I have to say ‘I am not telling you! I can’t tell you! I don’t want to spoil it.’”

Best just to enjoy the prospect, the enjoyment of telling the whole story – not something you necessarily get when filming.

“It is going to be quite a joy, and also to have that immediate response as well.”