YOU have to stay awake at Bath's Theatre Royal to keep up with productions by local theatre company New Old Friends.

Their latest offering Crimes, Camera, Action is premiering at the Theatre Royal to Saturday prior to a national tour in 2022.

The play whisks audiences to golden-era Hollywood and introduces a new lead detective, Stan Shakespeare, a world weary, hard-boiled private eye in the mould of Humphrey Bogart.

In the latest instalment of their ever-popular Crimes series, the cast bolt through the plot at breakneck speed until it reaches its suspenseful climax.

It's a constant surprise to me how just four actors can play such a multitude of characters and remember what they're doing.

Occasionally it does go wrong - at last night's performance some clothes fell off a rail - but it was handled with such aplomb the audience was made to feel it was supposed to happen.

As ever, the plot is hilariously inventive, with the usual lightning quick word play, subtle and not-so-subtle jokes, and a great dependence on comedy slapstick which sometimes feels overdone.

Last night's highlights included a 'rewind film in slow motion and fast forward' scene, a shoot-out and a railway track scene as the comedy thriller sped towards the denouement.

Directed by James Farrell, Crimes, Camera, Action is written by Feargus Woods Dunlop, who also stars alongside Kirsty Cox, Heather Westwell and Mark Collier.

If you go, expect the usual New Old Friends mix of great theatrical set pieces and the quickest of quick costume and set changes. My only criticism is that this style of theatre, while still funny, is becoming a bit predictable.

John Baker