The Falcon’s Malteser
ANTHONY Horowitz’s brilliantly punning title immediately set up both the setting and the sense of humour.
Like the Dashiell Hammett original, we are in the world of the down at heel private eye, one who becomes the centre of attention for femme fatales and exotically accented villains because of the item he has in his possession.
Only here the object of interest is not a fabulous jewel encrusted falcon, but a box of chocolates with a honeycomb centre.
There is even a Fat Man — but one who has been advised to go on a crash diet, so he no longer has the rotund shape of the classic Humphrey Bogart film’s Sidney Greenstreet.
Just to further add to the complications, he is also played by a woman, the very busy Heather Westwell. Something which does not escape the notice of the sharp eyed Nick Diamond.
"Man?" he exclaims.
"Just leave it," his brother Tim advises.
Both Horowitz’s original novel and this stage adaptation from Bath based theatre company New Old Friends are aimed at a young audience, so no prior knowledge of the original story is required.
It does have fun with some of the clichés of the hardboiled detective story, however,from the private eye’s annoying habit of stumbling over murder victims to the tough copper who has it in for our hero — although given the less than diamond sharp Tim’s habit of messing up everything he does, he might just have a point.
It even manages an on-stage car chase, thanks to a couple of chairs and a bit of imagination.
Aimed as it is at a younger audience, the humour is broad, but never rude or crude and with some nice wordplay in the script.
Tom Medcalf as 13-year old Nick, the real — if not the only — brains in the Diamond Brothers detective operation — also has the task of keeping the audience updated as to what is going on so that even the youngest theatre-goers in a busy OneTouch can follow the plot.
It is all executed with game good humour and bags of energy by the cast, with Feargus Woods Dunlop quite happy to play to fool as Tim and Westwell, Dunlop’s real-life wife and co-adaptator, and Dan Winter doing all the heavy lifting in terms of playing all the other supporting characters and enjoying themselves with a whole host of funny accents.
It is the stuff that fun nights out are made of.