Review: Not Dead Enough
PUBLISHED: 13:20 28 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:30 28 February 2017
It is a good idea to expect the unexpected when a play called Not Dead Enough is set in a mortuary and an audience at the Bristol Hippodrome, on last night’s opening night certainly did just that.
Gripped from the get go, theatregoers were taken on a thrill and chill ride of murder mystery suspense which you could only expect from the pen of prolific crime fiction writer Peter James, deftly brought to the stage by Shaun McKenna.
The audience was left quite literally on the edge of their seats as the drama surrounding the death of a businessman’s wife unfolds and they have to guess not only who dunnit but how they did it, while their alibi puts them firmly 60 miles away from the crime scene at the time.
The finger of suspicion is firmly pointing towards the husband and affable detective Roy Grace, played by former Eastender Shane Richie, does everything he can to detract a confession from him but something is clearly not adding up.
Richie was perfectly cast as the clever and funny DS Grace trying to solve each new crime but also heavily weighted-down with the mysterious disappearance of his own wife, and it is a part he has always coveted after working with the writer on previous projects.
Grace’s girlfriend, feisty chief mortician Cleo Morey was brilliantly played by TV presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Laura Whitmore, who also happens to be an award-winning drama graduate. She was completely convincing as a bright and caring career girl who just happens to be in love with the policeman she works closely with on every case.
But the best character accolade has to go to the sinister husband, played with great aplomb by expert baddie Stephen Billington, who won a Villain of the Year soap award for playing Greg Kelly in Coronation Street.
The brilliant and clever plot, which detours from the book slightly so as to keep even knowing audiences guessing, takes you on many twists and turns but is easy enough to follow and extremely absorbing from start to finish.
This is due to the excellently-written and believable main characters, the few well-timed and realistic mortuary/police gags and a fabulous cast.
The stage is cleverly split into an upper part set as the mortuary and a lower one as the police station, which worked particularly well as it meant minimal scene changes, mainly consisting of a shift of spotlight.
I thoroughly recommend this show to anyone looking for a change from the usual run of musicals at this theatre and I guarantee you will pretty soon in come up with your own theory about who dunnit.
Not Dead Enough is at the Hippodrome from tonight (Tuesday) until Saturday, with performances at 7.30pm each night and 2.30pm on Wednesday and Saturday,
Tickets, priced £20.40-39.40, are available via the Hippodrome website.
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