Not Dead Enough

Coventry Belgrade


I like a bit of murder; however this left me cold. It wasn’t the acting – first rate from all concerned – but the play itself which left far too many unanswered questions and suspended my disbelief for so long that it was well and truly dead.

Shane Richie plays a wonderful Brighton policeman Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, one of Peter James’ most popular creations. He is repeating the wonderful Dead Simple role with Jessie Wallace from 2016; East London wide boy made good with a ‘copper’s nose’ for when things don’t fit.

I’ve always thought that a good villain not only plans the crime but makes sure there’s plenty of evidence pointing in the wrong direction. Stephen Billington plays Brian Bishop – a wonderful name if only because Coventry has a well-established actor/producer of that name – is clearly unhinged but it’s Catch 22 because anyone put in the situation where all the evidence points to him as perpetrator of the ultimate crime is going to look unhinged.

And by denying the evidence things get worse. His wife Katie (Charlotte Sutherland) has just been murdered and he has denied having an affair with the pathologist’s assistant Sophie Harrington (Gemma Atkins), who goes to the police to lie for him, his car has been spotted in the early hours on the M23, everything fits. Except his blink rate . . . that shows he is telling the truth – or thinks he is.

The killing continues and again all the evidence points to Brian Bishop, pillar of the community, philanthropist businessman. There is a clear link to murders committed ten years before and never solved. Roy Grace has a shrewd idea who did it – but no evidence that would stand up in court.

Roy’s wife Sandy has disappeared in mysterious circumstances and his new love is the pathologist Cleo Morey (Laura Whitmore making her debut). Roy’s sidekick – a less enlightened policeman - Glenn Branson (Michael Quartey) provides comic relief from the increasing darkness.

Obviously I’m not going to tell you the story – the twist is impressive and we knew we were in for a surprise when the ‘murderer’ was revealed long before the interval!

If you’re a Peter James’ fan and they are legion, this may be up your street. If so, you’re in for an enjoyable experience at the theatre. For me, the stage was too busy, the outcome too implausible and spoilt by inconsistencies and red herrings. To 01-04-17

Jane Howard


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