NEWS & EVENTSTHE PERFECT MURDER PRESS REVIEWS 2015
INTERNATIONAL BEST-SELLING CRIME AUTHOR PETER JAMES
GOES TO NO.1 IN UK BOOK CHARTS
FULL CAST AND VENUES ARE CONFIRMED
FOR THE PERFECT MURDER 2016 UK THEATRE TOUR
STARRING SHANE RICHIE AND JESSIE WALLACE
On Sunday international best-selling crime author Peter James’ novel You Are Dead reached No.1 in the Fiction paperback charts after only 3 days on sale! Now, following a sell-out tour of the stage adaptation of Dead Simple, earlier this year, tickets for all venues for the 2016 UK tour of The Perfect Murder, opening at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham on Tuesday 2 February, are ON SALE NOW.
Peter James and producer Joshua Andrews are delighted that Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace will appear on stage together for the very first time in The Perfect Murder and are pleased to announce that completing the cast will be Simona Armstrong, Stephen Fletcher and Benjamin Wilkin.
Directed by Olivier award winner Ian Talbot and adapted by award winning writer Shaun McKenna, this highly acclaimed dark comedy thriller delighted and frightened audiences across the country in 2014, with its darkly funny and gripping storyline. The 2016 UK Tour opens at the Cheltenham Everyman on Tuesday 2 February before visiting Bromley, Dublin, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Brighton, Northampton, Cambridge and Coventry.
The Perfect Murder tells the story of Victor Smiley and his wife Joan who have been married for a long time. But their marriage has reached crisis point and Victor has decided there is only one way to get Joan out of his life forever... but he’s about to get a nasty surprise... As a young Detective Roy Grace starts to investigate his very first homicide case, dark forces intervene and Grace begins to fear that nothing is quite as it seems quite as it seems.
International bestselling crime thriller novelist Peter James has achieved No.1 best sellers around the world, has sold over 16 million books of his Roy Grace series, and is published in 36 languages. The Perfect Murder spent 15 weeks at No 1, remaining for 50 weeks in the iBooks Top 10 and his most recent novel, You Are Dead, is currently No. 1 in the Fiction charts. Peter James says of The Perfect Murder;
“It has always been my dream that one day the curtains would rise in a theatre and a play of my work would be performed. That dream came true in 2014 after a chance meeting with my old friend, producer, Joshua Andrews. The first run of The Perfect Murder, was a sell out success and we have followed that this year with an even more successful run of my best-selling book Dead Simple. To now have Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace star in The Perfect Murder really is another dream come true. Shane has been a fan of my books for a while, as I have been of Shane. He and Jessie have been loved on television by huge audiences over a number of years, which just goes to show how great they are together and I can’t wait to see Shane and Jessie planning to murder each other on stage every night!
Award winning actors, Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, have starred together in EastEnders for the last 13 years and their impending return to Albert Square was announced last month. They are also both well known for their numerous other TV and Theatre credits and are equally excited by their upcoming stage debut together;
They said: “We are really looking forward to working together on stage as it’s so different to TV.”
Shane added: “It’s an honour to be attached to Peter James work as I’m such a fan of his books!”
Jessie said: “As soon as I read the script, I knew I had to do it! “Watch out because sparks are going to fly and it’s the perfect murder!”
Producer Joshua Andrews added; “I am thrilled that Shane and Jessie have chosen The Perfect Murder as the production in which to star on stage together for the very first time. They really are ‘perfect’ casting for Victor and Joan. Peter and I are very much looking forward to working with them on this short tour and hopefully we might see a limited London run at the end of that.”
The Perfect Murder
Adapted by Shaun McKenna from the novel by Peter James
Produced by Joshua Andrews and Peter James
Booked by The Booking Office
Directed by Ian Talbot
Designed by Michael Holt
Lighting Designed by Mark Howett
Sound Designed by Martin Hodgson
Original Music composed by Laura Tisdall
"The Perfect Murder is the perfect entertainment; devilishly clever and, above all, terrific fun." - Chichester Observer
"It’s a night for everyone, with horror, intrigue, mystery and yet plenty of comedy included. It’s terrific!" - British Theatre Guide
"Simply captivating, utterly unmissable and very funny. If you don’t catch The Perfect Murder you’ll be committing a crime yourself." - Kent Inquirer Canterbury
"Thrilling and funny......The Perfect Murder really has it all." - The Richmond Times
"There are enough twists and turns, as well as shocks and laughs, in this thriller to keep any murder/mystery fans guessing the outcome. A cracking night out!" - Manchester Evening News
"Murder most perfect.....It's a blooming good night out!" - Eastern Daily Press
"I do not know if there are plans for a West End transfer, but this production certainly merits one." - Oxford Times
"Perfectly pitched between thriller and black comedy, and perfectly gripping. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend to all!" - What's On Bath
"'The Perfect Murder is a thoroughly entertaining night out and I would highly recommend it." - Broadwayworld.com
THE PERFECT MURDER PRESS REVIEWS SPRING 2014
***** "Simply captivating, utterly unmissable and very funny. If you don’t catch The Perfect Murder you’ll be committing a crime yourself." - Inquire Live
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"‘The Perfect Murder’ is about as good as detective drama gets and last night’s full house proved just how popular the genre continues to be." - Virtual Shropshire
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"Murder most perfect... It’s a blooming good night out!" - Eastern Daily Press
"A thriller with killer one-liners…….An all star cast had the audience in fits of laughter and at times on the edge of their seats in this superb fast paced thriller." - Coventry Telegraph
"A huge theatre hit……….There are plenty of laughs, twists and some tense drama as the whole cast play out this comedy-cum-mystery brilliantly………..As a play, The Perfect Murder is two hours of seamless fun. " - Milton Keynes Citizen
"Perfectly cast, perfectly pitched between thriller and black comedy, and perfectly gripping. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend to all!" - What’s On Bath
"There are enough twists and turns, as well as shocks and laughs, in this thriller to keep any murder/mystery fans guessing the outcome. A cracking night out!" - Manchester Evening News
"It’s a night for everyone, with horror, intrigue, mystery and yet plenty of comedy included, all superbly performed and great fun..... It’s terrific!" - British Theatre Guide
"A most entertaining play. Effective thrillers are not seen often on stage these days, but this is definitely one. I do not know if there are plans for a West End transfer eventually, but this production certainly merits one." - Oxford Times
"Thrillers and crime plays come and go but I suspect this one will be around for a long time to come." - Derby Telegraph
"The Perfect Murder is a thoroughly entertaining night out and I would highly recommend it." - BroadwayWorld.com
"A truly excellent night which keeps the audience guessing right up to the last moments ... A definite must for the dark winter's evening. Well recommended" - The News Brighton
"The packed house was entertained by side splitting dark humour and thrilling suspense" - The News Brighton
"The plotting of The Perfect Murder is ingenious" - What’s On Stage
"The Perfect Murder is indeed the perfect entertainment; devilishly clever and, above all, terrific fun" - Chichester Observer
"An excellent and hugely enjoyable night out, The Perfect Murder is very well worth the visit" - Hereford Times
"This story has a great plot…….It’s an evening of straightforward entertainment..... Having a deliciously dark centre" - Bath Chronicle
"Hugely entertaining" - Listomania Bath
"The excitement seemed to translate to a night on full house keen to see it. It is hard to imagine many went away disappointed" - Dartford News Shopper
"Perfect night" - @Amber_Bell1 (Amber Bell)
"Expect the unexpected!" - @Alie_Cutting (Alie Cutting)
"Kept us guessing right to the end" - @ArmstrongBeech (Debbie Newman)
"Great energy from all the cast and really funny." - @DebsHewitt (Deborah Hewitt)
"Amazing cast. Go and see it!" - @ReneHumphrey (Rene Humphrey)
"The cast were amazing keeping us spellbound for the full 2 hours- don't miss this it is superb" - Martin Chittock
"I was there and it was Fantastic!!!!! a truely wonderful night" - Jeanette Dwyer
"I had a great time on opening night, the play was fantastic, very well acted." - Vivienne Heuerman
"Brilliant, Anyone who is going to see this play will have a wonderful time" - Samantha Luxford
"Great evening out" - Jane Barber
"Wonderful! More please" - Fiona Nyman
"The perfect play" - @CliffLockyer (Cliff Lockyer)
The Perfect Murder: Milton Keynes Theatre
Television’s Endeavour Morse is not the only fictional sleuth currently to be seen showing his prowess in the early stages of his career. We can also watch Peter James’s Roy Grace at the start of his Brighton crime-busting days as a humble detective constable in The Perfect Murder, which is playing to packed houses at Milton Keynes Theatre this week.
The taut plotting and sudden surprises for which James is noted are certainly displayed here in this hugely entertaining two-hour play, expertly translated from page to stage by adapter Shaun McKenna.
The piece presents a star vehicle for the considerable talents – long recognised, of course – of Les Dennis. Very much more than a comedian – though comedy of a distinctly blackish hue does have a welcome place here – he dominates the stage from the play’s opening moments.
We find him first enjoying the delights of Brighton’s Kitten Parlour brothel, specifically those supplied by Croatian prostitute Kamila Walcak (Simona Armstrong, with an Eastern European accent sometimes a little difficult to penetrate). Dennis’s Victor Smiley, an IT consultant with an egg box company, has been a regular customer for a while and has struck up such a rapport with Kamila that he does not hesitate to speak of his plans to murder his missus. Her life insurance would be a nice nest egg, he says, should the blonde lovely choose to share a life with him.
Why – the loot apart – Victor is determined on uxoricide (yes, that is the word) becomes apparent in the next scene when we move to his sixties’ suburban house in Saltdean and meet the appalling Joan Smiley (the excellent Claire Goose). Argumentative, opinionated, shrewish – she is truly the housewife from hell. Mind you, it is clear that she, too, has something of a cross to bear in Victor, who could clearly bore for Britain, and snores, we are told more than once, like an elephant.
Joan’s redeeming feature is that she is very pretty. Unknown to Victor, and initially to the audience, she also has a bit on the side in the shape of white-van-driving Cockney Don Kirk (Gray O’Brien). Besides delivering on the rumpy-pumpy for Joan, he also supplies a neat line in self-penned rhyming slang. Donald Duck? You have it in one.
So how does Roy Grace come into all this? Well, initially we find him in consultation with Kamila – not in her usual ‘professional’ capacity but as a psychic with a gift for knowing where bodies are buried, submerged or otherwise disposed of.
Soon young Grace - engagingly portrayed by Steven Miller – comes calling Chez Smiley after a spot of unpleasantness there, which sends the plot off in ever more unusual directions . . .
As I said, this is a most entertaining play, impeccably acted under the direction of Ian Talbot. Effective thrillers are not seen often on stage these days, but this is definitely one. I do not know if there are plans for a West End transfer eventually, but this production certainly merits one.
Zena Hawley saw The Perfect Murder at Derby Theatre
WHAT do two people who have been married for 20 years do when their marriage is on the rocks?
Most couples would consider separation or divorce, but not the Smileys. Victor and Joan opt for a slightly more messy solution – they decide to murder each other. Thus the scene is set for top crime writer Peter James's play The Perfect Murder.
Starring Les Dennis as a middle-aged husband bored with his life and wife, it naturally has many touches of humour and modern comic references.
Playing his equally bored housewife – she has a lover while he sees a hooker – should have been another television star, Claire Goose, but her part was played very well by understudy Maeve Malley-Ryan on the night I saw the play.
Gray O'Brien, former star of Coronation Street, plays the lover Don, while the prostitute is played by Simona Armstrong – all in all a strong cast.
Ahead of his appearance in Derby, Les Dennis said he was "really enjoying the tour".
It's easy to see why – a good plot, fast-moving script and plenty of laughs ensure the play zips along.
There are plenty of twists and turns on the way and, if you have read the novella the play is adapted from, be aware the ending has changed, so you are still in for surprises galore.
Thrillers and crime plays come and go but I suspect this one will be around for a long time to come.
Review: Murder plot is neat and tidy as Les Dennis takes the stage in Coventry
Murder is a tidy business; or at least it is on-stage or on the page. For the most part motives, opportunity, weapons, all fall into place in the end, leading to the inevitable conclusion, which is often the point from which we start. So in The Perfect Murder, which dramatizes best-selling author Peter James’s novel of the same name.
Victor Smiley (Les Dennis) and his wife Joan (Claire Goose) are unhappily married. Each of them has a passion for murder, outwardly expressed in their interest in crime thrillers, but inwardly in their plans to murder the other and elope with their respective lover; in Les’s case with Slavic slapper Kamila (Simona Armstrong) and in Joan’s with block-headed hunk Don (Gray O’Brien).
The prospect of an ordinary divorce doesn’t seem to occur to them, probably because they want to take or keep whatever they can gain from the other. Perhaps that’s the appeal of the genre: it’s a familiar situation.
So Victor cooks up a complicated plan involving cyanide and Joan plots to overdose her hubby with insulin. I’m not really giving much away, as the clues are about as inconspicuous as presents around a Christmas tree. True to the form, the plot turns upon a tiny detail, which we probably overlooked at the time.
Every aspect of the show is well organised, as one would expect from this thoroughly professional cast and crew, and the characterisation is strong. As light entertainment, it succeeds and the packed house got their money’s worth.
Nick Le Mesurier
The Perfect Murder is a thriller with killer one-liners
An all-star cast had the audience in fits of laughter and at times on the edge of their seat in this superb fast-paced thriller adapted from the best selling novel by Peter James.
Les Dennis was at times slightly hammy yet entertaining in his portrayal of hen-pecked husband Victor Smiley, whose rows with wife Joan (excellently played by Claire Goose) provided much of the laughter in the packed theatre.
Constantly bickering, the pair have not only fallen out of love but are plotting their escape out of their unhappy marriage by committing murder.
Their addiction to cop shows and detective dramas help them to plan their crimes and also provoke more arguing. They cannot even agree on who played the best Sherlock – for Victor it is Basil Rathbone, for Joan it is Benedict Cumberbatch for his posterior.
“You can’t judge a Sherlock Holmes on his bottom,” says a weary Victor.
IT manager Victor talks about his evil plans with his love interest, prostitute Kamila Walcak, as he plots to run off with his wife’s life insurance and set up home with the call girl.
Meanwhile Joan begins an affair with taxi driver Don Kirk, superbly played by Gray O’Brien, and believes the only way out is to dispose of her husband in a grisly way.
The script is packed with superb one-liners and there are moments of hilarity when Joan and Don attempt to wrap up Victor’s body using value bin bags.
The best performance of the night came from Simona Armstrong, who was utterly convincing as Kamila as she manipulates a young police officer to help plan the perfect murder.
Les Dennis attempts the Perfect Murder
FOR a scintillating look at how to commit the perfect murder, head to Hall For Cornwall next week to see a show with murder very much in mind.
The Perfect Murder will star Les Dennis, one of Britain's most-loved actors and entertainers, recently seen starring as King Arthur in the West End in Spamalot and as joint runner-up in BBC One's Celebrity Masterchef.
Victor Smiley and his wife Joan have been married for a long time. But Victor secretly loathes Joan and is getting attention elsewhere. And Joan is bored stiff by Victor, whose irritating ways are driving her mad. The marriage has reached a crisis point and Victor decides there is only one way to get Joan out of his life forever ... but he's about to get a nasty surprise.
The play is based on the book of the same name by international bestselling crime thriller novelist Peter James – who has sold over 15 million books of his Roy Grace series and been published in 36 languages. The Perfect Murder spent 15 weeks at No 1 in the book charts.
Olivier Award winner Ian Talbot directs an all-star cast. Alongside Les Dennis will be Claire Goose, who starred in the BBC hit series Waking The Dead and Casualty as well as ITV's The Bill and most recently Sky TV's comedy-drama Mount Pleasant.
They are joined by Gray O'Brien, who recently enjoyed an award-winning three years in Coronation Street and has also starred in the TV series Titanic, Peak Practice and Casualty as well as in the West End in Sleuth; Steven Miller, who starred as Lenny Lyons for three years in Casualty, and Simona Armstrong, who the public took to their hearts in BBC's How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria.
WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT THAT MURDER COULD BE SUCH GOOD FUN? THE PERFECT MURDER IS INDEED THE PERFECT ENTERTAINMENT; NOT REMOTELY HIGH-BROW, BUT DEVILISHLY CLEVER AND, ABOVE ALL, TERRIFIC FUN, THAT LITTLE WORD THAT ALL TOO OFTEN GETS LEFT BEHIND ON STAGE.
The play offers a stage adaptation of Peter James’ novella, with the added interest that to expand it for the stage, the case has now become the first major investigation for detective Roy Grace, the star of James’ succession of hugely-popular Brighton-based novels.
The novella’s starting point was a conversation James had with a senior policeman in which he asked whether there was such a thing as the perfect murder. “Definitely,” the policeman replied. “It’s the one that we don’t hear about.”
For Victor Smiley and his wife Joan, the perfect murder becomes the perfect obsession, their intended victim each other. After years of failing marriage, they can’t stand each other.
Victor is already dreaming of a new life with a hooker he assiduously visits; Joan isn’t so very far away from being pushed into the arms of someone else. Both wants the other out the way.
Les Dennis, who’s been clocking up a fabulous range of varied roles just recently, is terrific as Victor, grouchy, dissatisfied, deliberately and/or carelessly annoying, a man with murder on his mind.
And Claire Goose is every bit as impressive in the rather more interesting role of Joan, conveying beautifully at first that one small kindness from Victor might yet save everything – a small kindness she is eventually forced to realise just isn’t ever going to come.
Maybe the play is just a touch slow to get going, but once it’s in its stride, there is something wickedly engaging about the humour. Trussing up a body and dumping it in a freezer really oughtn’t to be this funny; but then it all turns to nightmare as the dead, it seems, aren’t terribly keen to stay that way.
Gray O’Brien, Steven Miller and Simona Armstrong are excellent in support as the whole thing twists and turns until the only thing you can say for certain is that it ain’t over until it’s over (and probably isn’t even then).
On the most miserable of nights outside, there is huge fun – that’s the only word for it – to be had at the Mayflower this week.
THE PLOTTING OF THE PERFECT MURDER IS INGENIOUS AND THE CHARACTERS WHO WEAVE US INTO THEIR FRAUGHT LIVES ARE CREDIBLE WITHIN THE CONTEXT. DIRECTOR IAN TALBOT BALANCES COMEDY AND VIOLENCE (BOTH ACTUAL AND IMPLIED) WITH THE AID OF SOME COMMITTED PERFORMANCES AND A SPLIT-LEVEL SET DESIGNED BY MICHAEL HOLT WHICH ALLOWS THE ACTION TO FLOW BRISKLY FROM ONE LOCATION TO ANOTHER.
Victor Smiley is a middle-aged, middle-management IT specialist for a middle-ranking company. The cement of his childless marriage to Joan is fast crumbling away. She's frustrated in a dead-end job; he visits Kamila, an East European prostitute, on a regular basis. Joan and Victor basically have now nothing in common – except irritation at the other's little habits.
Catalyst for what happens next comes in the shape of handyman Don Kirk. There are some delicious references to film and television genres and to certain soap-operas. We, the audience, are being lulled into thinking we know what's going to happen. Roy Grace, a young detective-constable, also thinks he's on the right track.
Both Claire Goose and Les Dennis give impeccable performances as the Smileys. Steven Miller's Grace is a quiet man at the start of his career who keeps an open mind, including where Simona Armstrong's' Kamila is concerned. Her information (derived from intuition) has been right in the past; why should this time be any different?
Armstrong and Gray O'Brien as Don, Joan's hulk-on-the-side, balance out the central couple as the witches' brew of plot and counter-plot thicken. I'm not going to spoil your enjoyment by revealing what happens, when and to whom – but it's not at all what you might expect. You'll have to find out what happens (and then happens next) for yourself.
The Perfect Murder is at the Theatre Royal, Norwich until 25 January and then tours nationally.
Claire Goose is excellent as his waspish wife, Joan, bored of the marriage, bored of her life and looking for some excitement which she finds in the broad and hunky form of Don Kirk, a cockney from Pembury who lights up her life in more ways than one. Gray O’Brien plays Don Kirk with gusto and oafish charm, Don Kirk’s brains are definitely in his pants but he’s all the more amusing for it; the cockney rhyming slang has an entertainment of its own and coupled with shades of bedroom farce leads to much laughter.
Simona Armstrong plays Kamila Walcak, the hooker with a heart and an unusual talent which could prove useful to her ‘regular’ Victor who visits her tiny bedroom, bedecked with pink cushions and fairy lights, three times a week. Visits from the local plod are an occupational hazard and DC Roy Grace, played by Steven Miller, forms an uneasy alliance with her. Simona Armstrong has all the right qualifications to play Kamila, she’s tall, blonde, beautiful and above all can keep up a husky purring foreign accent for the duration. Steven Miller gives Grace a sensitivity born of his inexperience as a rookie detective, yet to solve his first big case.
The set is cleverly done, showing all three rooms, Kamila’s bedroom, the Smiley’s bedroom and their lounge with the action moving effortlessly between all three. The play is entertaining throughout with a great twist at the end; thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend to all!
WORLD PREMIERE PRODUCTION OF PETER JAMES’ BEST-SELLING NOVEL
FEATURING DETECTIVE ROY GRACE IN HIS 10TH ANNIVERSARY YEAR
The Perfect Murder to embark on UK Tour in January 2014
Have you ever wondered how to commit the perfect murder?
International best selling crime thriller novelist Peter James – who has sold over 15 million books of his Roy Grace series and been published in 36 languages – is to have his work adapted for the stage for the very first time. The Perfect Murder, which spent 15 weeks at No.1 in the book charts, has been adapted by award winning writer Shaun McKenna and will open at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford on Wednesday 8th January 2014, before touring to venues such as the Theatre Royal in both Bath and Brighton.
The Perfect Murder will star Les Dennis, one of Britain’s most-loved actors and entertainers who is currently starring as King Arthur in the West End in Spamalot. And last week finished joint runner-up in the Grand Final on BBC 1’s Celebrity Masterchef.
Victor Smiley and his wife Joan have been married for a long time. But Victor secretly loathes Joan and is getting attention elsewhere. And Joan is bored stiff by Victor, whose irritating ways are driving her mad. The marriage has reached a crisis point and Victor decides there is only one way to get Joan out of his life forever………but he’s about to get a nasty surprise.
Olivier Award winner Ian Talbot directs an all-star cast. Alongside Les Dennis - whose extensive credits in theatre include Chicago, Legally Blond, Hairspray, Art, Skylight and his award winning role in ‘Jigsy’ and on TV in Ricky Gervais’ Extras and Life’s Too Short and the upcoming Midsommer Murders Christmas special – will be Claire Goose, who starred in the BBC hit series Waking the Dead and Casualty as well as ITV’s The Bill and most recently SKY TV’s comedy-drama Mount Pleasant.
They are joined by Gray O’Brien, who recently enjoyed an award-winning three years in Coronation Street and has also starred in the TV series Titanic, Peak Practice and Casualty as well as in the West End in Sleuth; Steven Miller who starred as Lenny Lyons for three years in Casualty and whose theatre credits include The Lord of The Rings at London’s Drury Lane and Blackwatch; and finally Simona Armstrong, who the public took to their hearts in BBC’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria.
Peter James has won numerous awards both in the UK and in the USA. In 2012 Peter won the coveted US Barry Award for Best British Crime Thriller. The Perfect murder spent 15 weeks at No 1 and remained for 50 weeks in the iBooks Top 10 and he has recently enjoyed great success with the latest release in the Roy Grace Series, Dead Man’s Time.
Peter James commented on the first stage adaptation of his work:
"My parents took me to the Theatre Royal in Brighton almost every week of my childhood, and I dreamed of one day having a play of my own work produced. This is now truly a dream come true, and I could not wish to be with a more stellar group of people, including my wonderful co-producer Josh Andrews, writer Shaun McKenna who has done such a terrific adaptation and Ian Talbot who is a fantastic director. And I do not think we could have a more perfect, murderously wonderful cast!"
Shaun McKenna is an award-winning writer whose numerous credits include the award wining Ladies In Lavender and the epic West End stage adaptation of The Lord of The Rings musical.
The Perfect Murder is produced by Joshua Andrews and Peter James, in association with Paul Tyrer and Jamie Clark at the Booking Office.
For further information, please contact:
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