A MURDER Has Been Arranged is a curious combination of ghost story, murder mystery and whodunit.

The plot is difficult to follow and hard to believe.

Set in the late thirties, its about Sir Charles Jasper (an eccentric David Baxendale), who is set to receive £2 million if he can survive until 11 pm on his 40th birthday.

Otherwise his nephew, Maurice Mullins, will receive the fortune.

Sir Charles who has written about the occult arranges to have his birthday party in the haunted St James’ theatre.

The first half of Emlyn Williams play, currently showing at the Garrick, in particular lacks pace and credibility.

After the interval, the costume department excel in their designs for the ghostly fancy dress required for the party.

The screams and hysteria of the terrified guests at unexpected happenings, making a child near me hide her eyes, is well done

When Maurice Mullins makes a surprise entrance, Anthony Morris, shows him to be a scheming psychopath.

Mrs Arthur, Sir Charles mother-in-law who has inveigled her daughter’s marriage to Sir Charles because she can smell money is put over well by Caroline Knight.

In contrast with snooty Mrs Arthur, Christine Perry’s portrayal of Mrs Wragg, the cook, as a down-to-earth genuine person, is excellent.

Her daughter, Beatrice Jasper, is played with passion by Chloe Malandra

You have to see the play to appreciate the role of the dumb woman. Played by Mandy White she has the most fascinating part of all which adds to the tension.

And, yes, the arranged murder does take place, but the victim collapses upstage making it difficult to see.

• A murder has been arranged continues at Altrincham Garrick Playhouse until January 26. For tickets, telephone 0161 928 1677

Star rating: * * *