A monumental hangover haunts protagonist Derek Eveleigh throughout Douglas Post’s London-set monologue. He has basically been ridiculously drunk for 15 years, but he’s not the only one feeling ill. The capital’s own katzenjammer from World War II provides the backdrop to this detective story, set in 1957, in a city still suffering badly from the memories of the Blitz.
Derek, a police photographer during the war who was kicked out of the force for his reliance on the booze, delivers this dark thriller in the first person. It’s when he’s asked to secretly photograph a young black woman in Notting Hill by an anonymous benefactor that the trouble begins.
Simon Slater plays Eveleigh – increasing desperate in the face of murderous horrors he thought he’d left behind – with realistic understatement. He gives the snapper a posh twang slightly at odds with his background but this performance is the show’s energetic core. He dips in and out of other murky characters, portraying the three variety entertainers at the centre of a brutal crime well, and turning his hand to jazz and magic tricks with great flair. He fares less well with a bout of banjo-based Irish stand-up comedy.
Though it’s mostly entertaining, the twisty-turny whodunit plot gets a little lost and the finale wraps things up too quickly. There’s no chance to meet the intriguing woman at this story’s heart, which means we’re left a little shortchanged. Still, the show’s best moments come from the way Post evokes the death throes of the ’50s, in the back streets, night hotspots and dingy restaurants of London as rock ‘n’ roll edges in and the swinging ’60s approach.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell