Two “rising stars of English theatre” have been cast in a true-crime murder mystery which is going on tour in autumn 2023.

Pavan Maru and Jodie Garnish will play the lead roles in What’s Your Poison?, the first play by Steve Orme which is being produced by Rumpus Theatre Company.

Pavan is currently playing Richard Brightwell in another Rumpus production, John Goodrum’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ short story The Signalman.

Before that he appeared in three plays during the month-long Classic Thriller Season at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal in the summer.

Pavan Maru. Top: Steve Orme (left) and John Goodrum

He says it was his dream to get into acting: “I’m loving every single second. I hit lots of brick walls for a while but now I’m starting to flourish.

“I love the fact that it’s hard work. You can be given direction but you have to make the author’s vision come to life.”

In What’s Your Poison? Pavan will take two roles. He will play Adam, a journalist who argues that Victorian doctor William Palmer was guilty of being a serial killer, and in flashbacks he will be John Parsons Cook, Palmer’s close friend who he was convicted of poisoning.

“It’s so different from what I’ve done before,” says Pavan. “If audiences can believe me as the character I’m playing, then I’m happy.”

Jodie Garnish will play Lucy, who argues vociferously that Palmer was a victim of a miscarriage of justice, and Annie, Palmer’s wife, during flashbacks. She auditioned for the parts over Zoom.

John Goodrum who will play Dr Palmer explains: “She read two of the last scenes in the play and really brought them to life. She’ll be wonderful.

“Both Pavan and Jodie are rising stars. I’m sure they’ll go on to have fantastic careers.”

Jodie Garnish

Jodie who recently played Hermione in The Winter’s Tale for Cambridge Shakespeare Festival adds: “When I’m offered a piece I look through the text at what the character says about herself and what other people say about her.

“Acting is what I love to do the most. I love delving into another person’s mind. It’s fascinating to find out why people do the things they do.”

What’s Your Poison? explores whether Dr William Palmer was Britain’s first serial killer. He was alleged to have murdered his wife, brother, mother-in-law and four of his children as well as his friend Cook who he was convicted of poisoning.

The play which culminates in a “thrilling and delicious final twist” will tour to the following venues:

Fri 29 Sept
Sat 14 Oct
Tues 17 Oct
Thurs 19 Oct
Sat 21 Oct
Wed 25 Oct
Thurs 26 Oct
Fri 27 Oct
Sat 28 Oct
Sat 4 Nov
Sat 18 Nov
Tues 21 Nov
Wed 22 Nov
Fri 24 Nov


Hear John Goodrum and Steve Orme talking about the play to Sile Sibanda on BBC Radio Sheffield:


And here’s Steve chatting about What’s Your Poison? to Kelly Hinch on BBC Radio Lincolnshire:


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