Looking Good Dead

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‘Looking Good Dead’ is a book by UK best-selling crime & thriller writer Peter James:

Tom Bryce is a struggling businessman who’s trying to get himself out of debt while his alcoholic wife keeps spending money. Whilst on his usual train journey home he realises someone has left a memory stick on a seat, he innocently takes it home thinking he’ll do a good deed and return it.

Once he gets home Tom puts the stick into his computer and his techno-whizz son Max, breaks the password to reveal a horrifying video and now their lives are in danger!

The adaptation from book to play has been carefully crafted by Shaun McKenna to keep the same story, however it’s been translated for a live performance and to keep the audience engaged with the thriller as it unfolds.

We have a dysfunctional family pretending all is well, however we have murders, kidnapping, ransom demands, and a Detective who doesn’t think all is what it seems. There are twists and unexpected turns to keep you guessing – by the end of the first half, after the set-up, you think you have a good idea who is behind the murder – but of course we have many more twists to come in the second half.

Although there is a lot going on, it’s not difficult to follow, however there were a couple of unanswered questions when I left the theatre. The play is based in real time but the plot is fantasy, so suspending your disbelief for a few of the plot twists is advisable and just go with it. There were a few cheap laughs which I couldn’t see the point of – it’s a crime thriller, no jokes were needed to ‘lighten the mood’, however some audience members appreciated them.

It’s a big story and it has been squeezed into the 2 hour play so it moves along quickly and there is a huge amount of dialogue for the main characters – well done to them for being able to get through all of that every night.

A very well thought out set to be able to depict the 3 main scenes: Inside the Bryce family home was the main stage setting; a sliding section for the police station with appropriate lighting to ignore the rest of the stage; and the lounge wall of the family home became transparent to show the murder scenes. Very creative and it worked a treat.

A great cast list including big names Adam Woodyatt and Gaynor Faye which is fabulous to see in Norwich.

The actors all played their parts well although I didn’t particularly feel emotionally attached to the characters and there was a lack of atmosphere, maybe because the tempo didn’t suit the dramatic nature of a crime thriller. However overall it was an enjoyable performance and I was surprised with the last couple of plot twists as I didn’t see them coming.

Adam Woodyatt – Tom Bryce
Gaynor Faye – Kellie Bryce
Harry Long – Roy Grace
Ian Houghton – Jonas Kent
Leon Stewart – Glenn Branson
Gemma Stroyan – Bella Moy
Luke Ward-Wilkinson – Max Bryce
Mylo McDonald – Mick

Looking Good Dead is on tour around the country and is running at Norwich Theatre Royal until 20th October.

This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE

Photo Credit: Alastair Muir

Norwich Theatre Royal


Martin Gillespe – Skerryvore

Reverend Billy


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