The other day I went to Dirk Benedict play Columbo in Prescription: Murder at the Worthing Connaught Theatre. The play actually predates the series and was used as the basis for the pilot episode in which Peter Falk played the detective for the first time (although confusingly, the play is based on a previous TV one-off drama, in which Columbo was played by yet another actor).
Benedict was convincing in the role, perhaps wisely adding little of his own and essentially conjuring up the spirit of Falk (who, confusingly, isn’t dead, although he has dementia and can no longer remember being Columbo, which is surely the saddest fact in show-business not involving Alex Reid right now).
The production was cheap and cheerful (and nothing wrong with that), although the sets were excellent, convincingly conjuring up 60s Los Angeles with a minimum of elements. Some of the acting from the supporting cast was a bit creaky, with that ‘TALKING REALLY LOUDLY FOR NO REASON’ you used to get in Radio 4 dramas in the 80s, but I don’t know if the play would really have benefited from a more subtle approach.
Benedict smoked a real cigar, which you could smell and everything.
The audience was played by Victoria Wood and Julie Walters (Sample overheard comments following the murder scene: ‘I can see her breathing.’ ‘Well she’s not really dead.’).
Anyway, the show’s touring the country, and I recommend it.