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Sarah Crown
Theatre Correspondent
9:00 PM 6th September 2021
arts

Looking Good Dead - Alive & Kicking!

If you’re a Peter James fan of the Roy Grace series of detective novels you’ll enjoy this stage version!

Adapted by the award winning writer Shaun McKenna, Looking Good Dead follows the stage successes of other Peter James novels, The Perfect Murder and Dead Simple, but this one is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat up until the terrifying final moments!

‘Looking Good Dead’ sees the staunch Eastenders actor Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale) return to live theatre partnered with fellow soap star Gaynor Faye of Coronation Street, Emmerdale Farm and Dancing on Ice fame.

Together they make the perfect warring middle class couple who along with their son Max, inadvertently get mixed up in a dark and murderous world.

When stress levels begin to rise the thin veneer of the family harmony begins to disintegrate even if, as Kellie says, ‘We’re all in this together’.

Whilst Tom (Woodyatt) tries to do his best for his family, in typical Ian Beale style, the Bryce family business is in serious financial difficulties. The household’s finances are not helped by Kellie’s (Gaynor Faye) extravagant spending habits and a fondness for the bottle.

It is against this backdrop of family life that Tom and Max (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) inadvertently become witnesses to a vicious murder and as the story line gathers pace, secrets from the past start to resurface.

When the police become involved the family are threatened with all manner of dire consequences.
The play was well cast, particularly Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Max, the typical modern teenager who speaks before he thinks and, like most of his generation, was always glued to one screen or another and permanently lost in his own world with an obligatory set of noise cancelling earphones.

Also of note was Ian Houghton taking the part of Jonas Kent, who was well able to portray the persona of a wealthy businessman and by contrast, a menacing thug.

Having read the book, I was expecting Detective Superintendent Roy Grace to be a strong and charismatic leader but his portrayal by Harry Long just didn’t live up to that expectation: but maybe that’s just me.

An ingenious and imaginative set designed by Michael Holt allowed the audience to simultaneously see inside the Bryce family home, the police station and what can only be described as a torture chamber with one simple scenery movement and change of lighting.

All of which is very clever as the audience see father and son watch the snuff videos whilst the action plays out behind them on a raised stage. The lighting and the accompanying music also helped towards creating what should have been menacing moments.

Somehow, it didn’t quite work as the menace was never really there even to the point of there being some giggles in the audience rather than the intended gasps!

The play has a brilliant storyline with more twists and turns than an Olympic Gold Medal gymnast and judging by the cast’s reaction to their curtain calls, they enjoyed the evening just as much as the audience .

All in all, an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

Looking Good Dead
Leeds Grand Theatre
Until Saturday Sept 11th

Original Tour Review
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield.