Anthony Horowitz’s 50s film noir spoof, The Falcon’s Malteser, comes to stage
- Credit: Archant
A Mexican dwarf with a mystery package, a femme fatale nightclub singer called Lauren Bacardi and super-slim arch criminal The Fat Man are among the characters in film noir spoof The Falcon’s Malteser.
Anthony Horowitz’s 1986 comic mystery has been adapted into a stage show which revels in the book’s playful take on the detective genre.
Featuring slapstick, clowning, comedy songs, puppetry and a cast of four playing multiple characters, the fast-paced comedy is performed at Jacksons Lane next month by New Old Friends theatre company.
Former stand-up Feargus Woods Dunlop says he and partner Heather Westwell usually specialise in original work that merges stand-up and theatre for 18 to 30s.
“But when I read it, even though it’s aimed at children, I laughed the whole way through.
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“I gave it to Heather saying, ‘You’ve got to read this – you will love it.’ She found it hysterical and said, ‘I can see this working as a stage show, why not try to get the rights for it?’”
Horowitz, who lived for years in Muswell Hill, quickly supported their project and will come to see the show when the tour arrives in Highgate.
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The story starts as inept private detective Herbert Simple and his razor-sharp 13-year-old brother Nick are asked by vertically challenged Johnny Naples to guard a box of Maltesers.
When Naples is bumped off, the duo, who go by the name The Diamond Brothers, are plunged into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with ruthless German assassins Gott and Himmell, who are among those on the trail of a stash of uncut diamonds.
“Most theatre is aimed either at younger children or the teenage market and there’s very little for this middle age group of eight and up,” says Woods Dunlop.
“We don’t want to patronise our audience but we’ve been careful how we handle the shootings in the play. Rather than having gruesome deaths, some happen off stage and some are stylised – Scooby Doo was one of our reference points.
“The budget didn’t stretch to a hotel being blown up so we had to find a way around that, and we make a lot of use of the 1950s film noir style with Trilby hats, music from that era and a lot of Nick directly addressing the audience.
Woods Dunlop adds: “Anthony Horowitz has been very supportive, his work gets adapted a lot for film and TV but he’s really excited about this stage version. The book has a special place for him because it’s the first of the Diamond Brothers’ detective agency books and was written nearly 30 years ago.”
Although Herbert, aka Tim Diamond, is the private detective, because he’s moronic, it’s left to his 13-year-old brother to solve this big case involving international criminals.
“If the audience haven’t read the book, there are enough clues given in the show that they could solve the case before Nick does.”
The Falcon’s Malteser runs at Jacksons Lane from November 4-8.