Writer: Anthony Horowitz
Adaptor: Feargus Woods Dunlop
Director: Lee Lyford
Reviewer: Margarita Shivarova
Based on Anthony Horowitz’s novel, this stage adaptation by New Old Friends originally produced in 2014 takes the audience on a journey of solving perhaps the toughest detective case Timothy and Nick Simple have ever come across. But don’t let this surname lead to premature conclusions about the boys’ cognitive abilities. At least not for one of them.
Although not officially the “Diamond Brothers Detective Agency” until the end of the play, from the first scene it becomes apparent the brains of this problem-solving duo is the thirteen-year-old younger sibling, Nick (Sian Eleanor Green). Revealing the mystery behind a box of maltesers the brothers are entrusted to watch over soon gets London’s criminal underground figures such as Himmel, The Fat Man and two material girls embark on a treasure hunt for the 3.5 million pound worth diamonds allegedly hidden by Falkenberg before his death. While Nick follows each clue he also has the unfortunate duty to get his not so bright brother out of trouble as Tim’s natural curiousity often leaves him holding a gun at a crime scene when Police Inspector Snape walks in. The latter’s occasional interference, however, is somewhat useful in clarifying what parties are involved in the chase for Falkenberg’s diamonds. Snape thus inadvertently helps his opponents in revealing the mystery which involves a scientific explanation, a supermarket cashier scanner and sadly no chocolates, but a nearly broken tooth for Nick.
The script cleverly reveals the characters past through series of hilarious comedy songs where the skillset of Fergus Leatham and Samantha Sutherland stands out. Their credit for seamless character changes, a mishmash of German, Russian, Cockney and other accents gets the deserving recognition from the audience. At the same time referencing The Matrix famous slow motion scenes throughout the dangerous situations Nick and Timothy are involved in, nicely stirs up the otherwise ongoing hasty pace of the performance. The cast’s great work with facial expressions naturally dives the audience in the excitement felt by the characters. With the occasional technical issues such as missing imaginary car headlight and times where it seems like a wrong line slips out of Nick’smouth, the musical sketches, tongue-twisters and mouthfuls are delivered with ease.
The set is exactly what a production of this type needs. Namely, good balance of furniture positioning in order to leave the necessary space for manoeuvre. Simultaneously mobile and with multiple uses, the set allows the audience to be transported to wherever the narrator takes them. Yet, it wouldn’t have worked without the smart direction on how the cast accommodates scene shifts and keeps the audience entertained through choreographic sequences both on and off character.
Runs until: 25 August 2019 | Image: