Not Dead Enough
Murder and mystery set at seaside
Women are dropping down dead in the scenic town of Brighton and all the gory evidence points to one man.
But was it really him?
This week the Bristol Hippodrome has welcomed something a little different to its stage.
A big jump from the glistening lights and cheery tunes of musical theatre, Not Dead Enough is a dramatic murder mystery filled with suspense and intrigue, offering an opportunity for the audience to observe an intricate puzzle unfold on the stage in front of them.
Based on the 2007 best selling novel by renowned author Peter James, Not Dead Enough opens with a murder scene involving a gas mask, handcuffs and an unsuspecting female.
Detective Inspector Roy Grace (Shane Richie) and his colleague Glenn Branson (Michael Quartey) are then set the task of piecing the clues together with the help of head pathologist Cleo (Laura Whitmore). The only problem is, all the evidence points to one man – Brian Bishop, the husband of the deceased.
As Brian (played by Stephen Billington) is slowly linked to numerous other unsolved deaths through seemingly indisputable DNA evidence, yet still hysterically defends his innocence, Detective Inspector Grace begins to wonder if all is not as it seems.
Ritchie played the part of DI Grace exceptionally well.
Given that his resumé mostly consists of soaps and pantos, it would have been easy to pre-judge the casting and expect an overdone performance fit for the Queen Vic.
However, his character’s noticeable tension, doubt and deep thoughtfulness was acted with a subtlety that helped add to the overall atmospheric suspense of the story.
The part required Richie to explore several very human dimensions of the character, and this is something he did well.
Television presenter Sarah Whitmore, who played the role of Cleo, also delivered a satisfactory performance although it would have been nice to see this character develop more.
Her evolving love interest with DC Grace and the complexities within this didn't appear to carry much substance and got a little lost in the rest of the story.
And then there was Stephen Billington as Brian Bishop.
It's difficult to reflect too much on Billington’s performance without giving the game away - this is a murder mystery after all! What can be said is that he explored the many corners of Bishop’s personality in such a way that many audience members were urgently exchanging ideas during the interval as to whether he really was guilty or not.
The set was certainly clever.
Split between the morgue and the police station, often two scenes would be acted simultaneously and this certainly helped the audience to receive a broader picture.
The best thing about Not Dead Enough is that the story translates smoothly to the stage.
In the wrong hands, the true essence of this murder mystery may not have carried over, perhaps due to the challenge of including the smaller details and descriptions in a live performance.
Luckily, thanks to the creative talents of director Ian Talbot and stage adaptor Shaun McKenner, the narrative is easy to follow, the characters are distinctive enough to engage with and there's just enough twists, turns and red herrings to prevent anyone from catching on too quickly.
As with any good murder mystery, it's not until the very last minute that the puzzle begin to click together.
And while you may think you've guessed the ending by the start of the second act, you will almost certainly be wrong.
Not Dead Enough plays Bristol from Monday to Saturday, February 27-March 4.
Tickets from £17.50 from book office or by clicking HERE.
Preview: Not Dead Enough
EastEnders soap star Shane Richie is playing the lead in a thrilling new stage play Not Dead Enough.
Following his role in the hugely successful nationwide tour of The Perfect Murder earlier this year alongside Jessie Wallace, award-winning actor Shane is now set to star as Peter James’ famous literary detective superintendent Roy Grace alongside Laura Whitmore as Cleo Morey in Not Dead Enough.
The third thrilling stage adaptation of multi-million selling author Peter James’ novel receives its world stage premiere in January 2017.
Multi award-winning actor Shane has played numerous roles on stage and screen and is perhaps best known for his role as Alfie Moon in BBC TV’s EastEnders.
He will next be seen on screen in his upcoming role in Redwater, a six-part series based on EastEnders’ characters Kat and Alfie Moon as they embark on a new life in Ireland, which is set to broadcast in early 2017.
Shane said of Not Dead Enough; “I’m thrilled to be asked to play one of the most interesting and innovative characters of modern times in policing.
"I’ve never read a Peter James book and not been taken on a journey of menace, excitement and a roller coaster of a journey with all the thrills and chills! It’s an honour to be asked to play detective superintendent Roy Grace.”
Peter James said; “I’m really delighted Shane Richie is going to be playing the role of detective superintendent Roy Grace in the forthcoming stage adaptation of my novel, Not Dead Enough.
"Shane is a wonderful actor and I think he has that combination of warmth, toughness and deeply innate compassionate humanity that defines Roy.
"We first discussed him playing the role three years ago, and I could not be happier it has finally come to fruition, all the more so after his terrific performance as Victor Smiley in the stage adaptation of my novella, The Perfect Murder, earlier this year.
"I can’t wait to work with Shane again and I’m excited by the combination of Shane and Laura Whitmore on stage together.”
Not Dead Enough is the third novel in the award winning Roy Grace series and now becomes the third play in his box office smash hit and critically acclaimed stage franchise.
James has been acclaimed as ‘one of the most fiendishly clever crime fiction plotters’ (Daily Mail) and his brilliant international bestselling Roy Grace novels have been published in 37 languages and sold more than 18 million copies worldwide.
His latest novel, Love You Dead, enjoyed three consecutive weeks at number one in the fiction hardback charts, a new record for Peter who is also the 2016 recipient of crime writing’s highest honour, the Diamond Dagger.
On the night Brian Bishop murdered his wife, he was 60 miles away, asleep in bed.
At least that’s what he claims.
But as detective superintendent Roy Grace continues to deal with the mysterious disappearance of his own wife, he starts to dig a little deeper into the chilling murder case and it soon becomes clear that love can be a dangerous thing.
Not Dead Enough reunites Peter James with theatre producer Joshua Andrews, the Olivier award winning director Ian Talbot and award winning playwright Shaun McKenna.