Theatre Review: Dead Simple


Ever wondered what it’s like to be buried alive?

Adapted from Peter James’ bestselling novel (selling 2 million copies worldwide) ‘Dead Simple’ sees a cast rich in TV soap credentials entertain in an enjoyable crime thriller. The story initially centers around a stag prank gone wrong – very wrong, which leaves Eastenders and Hollyoaks ‘bad boy’ Jamie Lomas trapped six-feet-under with oxygen supplies dwindling and murky rain waters rising.

Tina Hobley of Holby City fame takes the starring role as concerned bride-to-be Ashley Harper and does a convincing job in a role that, without giving too much away, has its fair share of character developments. Red herrings are flung about the place in a script that offers some tantalising twists as all crime dramas should. The darker side to the action dares to get rather violent at times and thanks to some subtle comic relief elsewhere in the play, some of the more evil notions gather laughs rather than presumably-intended shrieks from the audience. The confused reactions fail to hinder the overall immersible atmosphere of the play’s mystery and claustrophobic visuals of cramped coffins and dark basements deliver a satisfactory level of discomfort.

Detectives Grace and Branson are a likable duo in a crowd full of nasties and annoying individuals and it’s a relief to have them to root for. Lomas’ boisterous Michael Harrison gets reduced to a blubbering mess for the majority of the story and if it was panto you’d be shouting for someone to either put him out of his wailing misery or give him a good slap. You have to feel sorry for him though, with a walkie talkie as his only connection to the outside, he is left to try and reason with the difficult Davey Wheeler. Davey’s dynamic and troubled persona is portrayed brilliantly by Josh Brown who delivers the standout performance of the production. Having previously popped up in roles in Grange Hill, Emmerdale, Waterloo Road and Holby City, he executes the switch from soap to stage more explosively than his peers in what is his first professional theatre appearance.

The plot doesn’t thicken too much but nonetheless simmers on an entertaining heat throughout. There’s of course a large sum of money to be fought over, amputated body parts in the post and a spine-tingling piano soundtrack. An interesting premise containing the odd cliche and gentle sprinkling of cheese, Dead Simple is one to watch.

Reviewed at Hall for Cornwall.

8 Very Good

An enjoyable crime thriller that conjures up its fair share of twists and turns. Whilst the plot doesn't thicken too much, it nonetheless simmers on an entertaining heat throughout.


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