After enjoying the first adaptation of novelist Peter James’s work, I returned to Richmond Theatre to see another. Dead Simple, adapted by Shaun McKenna and directed by Ian Talbot, is based on the first novel starring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. I’m pleased to say that this one also kept me gripped.
It’s a bizarre and rather terrifying set-up: wealthy property developer Michael Harrison is buried alive by his “friends” in a stag night prank, which takes an even more serious turn when a car accident kills them all. It seems that no one else knows where Michael is, but even when he starts to see light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out that someone who could help him has a vested interest in ensuring he stays missing…
This was an enjoyable thriller with some very tense moments. Though some aspects were predictable and a tad formulaic, other twists were ones that I really didn’t see coming, and my attention was captured throughout. I wasn’t keen on some of the performers to begin with, but their portrayals grew on me as the evening went on. Jamie Lomas does a good job as the hapless groom-to-be, while Tina Hobley impresses as his fiancee Ashley. Josh Brown does very well in a difficult role as teenager Davey Wheeler, while Gray O’Brien is a calming presence as Grace, doing his best to solve the mystery before it is too late.
I was particularly impressed with the set, which had been carefully designed to showcase a number of locations ranging from Michael and Ashley’s comfortable home to the claustrophobic underground coffin in which Michael is trapped. It isn’t the most sophisticated play and it doesn’t exactly break any theatrical ground, but it provides a good couple of hours of entertainment, and I’d be happy to go and see another Peter James adaptation.