The stage adaptation of Looking Good Dead is showing at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 21 August 2021. It is the fifth Peter James novel to be brought to the stage, and stars Gaynor Faye and Adam Woodyatt.
As I’m sure you know, Adam Woodyatt has been playing Ian Beale since BBC’s Eastenders’ first episode in 1985.
I don’t watch soap programmes, but whenever I accidentally come across Eastenders, Ian Beale always seems to be crying about something.
So I was half expecting a lot of tears from Woodyatt’s character, Tom Bryce, and the odd duff-duff between scene changes.
I am pleased to announce (spoiler alert) there were no duff duffs. And no constant sobbing.
Tom Bryce is a business owner in debt, and struggling to make ends meet. He is married to Kellie Bryce (Gaynor Faye), a secret alcoholic and they live with their son Max (Luke Ward-Wilkinson).
Max really shows how useful noise-cancelling headphones can be as he uses them to remove himself from the regular bickering between his parents.
Although, you may want to prevent your partner from using them…
The plot starts when Tom brings home a USB memory stick he found on the train. He asks Max to help gain access to the stick so they can identify the owner and return it to them.
Tom felt this was a better idea than handing it in to the train company’s lost property office. It’s not…
After cracking the password, Tom and Max witness a vicious murder live on a website after clicking on a link hidden on the memory stick, leaving the family in danger.
I found the first 20 minutes or so a slow slog. This is probably my fault. When I watch thrillers on TV I’m always checking my smartphone. Something you can’t do in a theatre.
So I got very fidgety.
But it did pick up, and this is mostly down to the introduction of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, played by Lee Peck (an understudy who replaced Harry Long).
Now, I am not a seasoned theatre-goer. The only non-musical stage show I’ve seen (outside the penance of watching a member of the family in a school production) is The Mousetrap.
With Mousetrap, it is more about the experience and actors hamming it up than it is about the plot. Lee Peck’s Roy Grace would fit right in with the other characters.
I found him very hammy, and I’m not sure if this was part of the character’s ‘backstory’, but Peck was obviously enjoying himself.
But this made it a joy to watch him as he stole scene after scene.
The situation the Bryce family finds itself in includes secrets, lies, warnings (the owners of the murder website track down the family) and a kidnaping.
But is everything as it seems? Is this a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Looking Good Dead brings you revelations and twists. As the show goes moves forward, you get to discover what is really going on.
But I didn’t guess the final twist.
I can’t say too much about without giving it away. But I’d like to believe that my lack of detective skills is down to the excellent way the book was adapted for the stage, and not because I’m always looking at my smartphone while watching TV…
Looking Good Dead plays at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 21 August 2021.
Ticket information can be found here:
John Guinn attended a showing of Looking Good Dead as a guest of Milton Keynes Theatre.