Review: Raffles at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre

Ian Sharrock and Nicholas Gilbrook in Raffles - The Mystery of the Murdered Thief.
Ian Sharrock and Nicholas Gilbrook in Raffles - The Mystery of the Murdered Thief.

Fictional partners in crime have taken their first steps on stage in more than 100 years.

Arthur J. Raffles and his sidekick Harry ‘Bunny’ Manders were the brainchild of EW Hornung who was born 150 years ago.

The author wrote 25 short stories and a full-length novel about the dashing anti-hero and his privately-educated accomplice.

Four of those stories have been merged into a play written by Derbyshire-based theatre impresario John Goodrum.

Raffles - The Mystery of the Murdered Thief, running at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre until September 10, is an engaging and entertaining production by Rumpus Theatre Company.

Ian Sharrock of Emmerdale fame stars as the lovable Bunny who is drawn into all manner of scrapes by his utterly charming cad of a boss. The play opens with Bunny being sent to jail for a crime masterminded by Raffles who has apparently been lost at sea after a theft aboard a cruise liner.

After his release from jail, the pair are reunited through a newspaper advert and return to their criminal ways.

Ian’s exaggerated facial expressions during the scenes are a joy to watch as Bunny gets caught up in tricky situations.

Nicholas Gilbrook gives an outstanding performance as Raffles, oozing confidence and charm and leaving all enthralled by his storytelling. His ability of switching from crystal-cut English pronunciation to fast-talking American to gruff London accent is remarkable.

Raffles will steal your heart and a couple of hours of your life. It would be a crime to miss it.