What's more surprising is that he chose crime fiction as his outlet, his Grantchester Chronicles, featuring thirtysomething bachelor vicar and amateur sleuth Sidney Chambers, having more than a whiff of GK Chesterton about them. Chambers makes his stage debut here in what is an amiable and enjoyable, if slightly rushed, by-the-numbers whodunit, set in the smoky, nighthawks world of 1950s Soho.
The case in question involves the murder of the daughter of Black Cat jazz club owner and former jewel thief, Phil "The Cat " Johnson. This sees Chambers (Paul Dodds) flitting between Soho and "the milk train" to Cambridge, as he runs the rule over a variety of suspects that include Phil's right hand man and trumpet player Tommy Maguire, a jilted ex-boyfriend, and American jazz singer Gloria Dee (Frances Thorburn in stunning vocal form worth the price of a ticket alone).
As you'd expect, red herrings and some ecclesiastical maxims crop up aplenty. But, in truth, Chambers isn't best served by the truncated style of A Play, A Pie And A Pint. The constraints of using a four-strong, multi-tasking cast (George Drennan and Daniel Boyd complete the line- up) result in the production becoming an uneven mishmash of straightforward whodunit drama, narrative exposition and parody a la Patrick Barlow's 39 Steps spoof that pitches it somewhere between the stories and the TV series Runcie's Chronicles are surely set to become. One for casual crime fans rather than aficionados then, but entertaining fun nonetheless.