Peter James’ Dead Simple

The theatre was buzzing as we took our seats and the audience were gripped from the very start.
I’ve not read Peter James but I knew that the play was based on his book Dead Simple which features a recurring detective Roy Grace.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be buried alive. I guess many of us have thought about it, maybe had a nightmare about it. This is what happens to Michael Harrison (Jamie Lomas) on his stag night. He’s a bit of a joker and has played many pranks on his friends so this is their ultimate revenge. They put him in a coffin in a  shallow grave in the woods and plan to return when his ‘punishment’ is up. They leave him with a walkie talkie and he has his mobile phone but no signal. Soon he has no connection at all and is all alone in his shallow grave with no idea what is happening and why his friends have not returned for him.

The first half of the play focuses on the characters and how they react when they find Michael is missing. His fiancee Ashley Harper (Tina Hobley) is distraught but his best friend Mark Warren (Rik Makarem) appears to know where he is but appears unwilling to admit it or help him. We are also introduced to Detective Superintendant Roy Grace (Gray O Brien) and Detective Sergeant Branson (Marc Small) who are on the missing person case. The superintendant is currently in disgrace after seeking the help of a Psychic Zoe Frame (Sarah Baxendale).

Another character is Davey Wheeler (Josh Brown) who I admit confused me a little. At first I couldn’t make out if he was meant to be really young or older and autistic. I think maybe he was somewhere between the two. He finds the other walkie talkie and becomes the only contact that Michael, locked in his coffin, has.

The first half ends with a twist which had the audience gasping!

The second half was much faster moving with so much going on it was almost difficult to keep up with it all. There were so many twists and turns and a lot of bloodshed too. Some plot twists I’d managed to work out, some where a shock. I’m so glad I hadn’t read the book! The ending was quite predictable but still good.

The play didn’t really focus much on the talents of the DS Roy Grace which I felt is a shame because he seems a very likeable character. In fact I am keen to read some more of the books now that I have had my introduction.

The Set design, by Michael Taylor, was quite brilliant. The stage was split into three and the lighting skills of Mark Howett made focusing on the area of action easy. I loved the forest area which I actually thought was a film when it first appeared on the top left hand side of the stage. It was also really clever how they showed Michael trapped in his coffin.

Overall I felt it was a really good performance. The pacing felt a little off with the second half moving so fast compared to the first, but then you tend to find that in Murder Mystery type stories anyway. There were so many twists and turns of plot that maybe too much was left to fate, but I guess not everything is planned to perfection, even murder!

I would recommend the play to anyone who likes a good murder mystery, with some very nice looking actors. Be prepared for a few shocks along the way, with a little bit of horror and even a little humour at times.

The New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham is a building full of character and atmosphere. The staff are friendly and helpful and the place is clean with lots of toilet facitilies. There are several car parks nearby, we chose to park in the Town Hall ‘Cage’ car park just a couple of minutes walk away. It cost just £3.20 for the evening as we arrived after 6pm.

Peter James’ Dead Simple is on at the New Alexandra Theatre until July 4th. Tickets cost 12.90 to £38.90. For more information or to book tickets go to ATG Tickets

I attended the New Alexandra Theatre to review Dead Simple for What’s Good To Do. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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  1. July 3, 2015 / 11:49 am

    Yikes, buried alive – a terrifying thought! Sounds as though it's the sort of play made for great set design.

  2. July 3, 2015 / 5:17 pm

    Sounds like it was a great play. I have read a few of these books and love them

  3. July 3, 2015 / 10:59 pm

    Who wouldn't hate to be buried alive! It sounds like an interesting play, I really would love to go to the theatre more.

  4. July 4, 2015 / 4:32 am

    I have never been to watch a 'proper play' life as a mum gets in the way of these things. It sounds like it was very thrilling and full of excitement!

  5. July 4, 2015 / 9:26 am

    Woah, sounds like a gripping play! A friend of my mum's, mum had a fear of being buried alive, and in her will stated she wasn't to be buried until after 3 weeks of her dying, just to make sure!!

  6. July 4, 2015 / 4:53 pm

    Wow, I love plots with twists and turns and this sounds full of them. Reminds me of that Eastenders storyline. I can't get there to see it but this makes me want to read the book which I hope is just as good.
    Liska @NewMumOnline x

  7. July 4, 2015 / 10:28 pm

    Oh gosh buried alive is one of my worst nightmares – this sound like a play right up my street though!

  8. July 5, 2015 / 7:08 am

    Sounds like an intriguing play. I think I might try some of the books.

  9. July 5, 2015 / 10:55 am

    I can honestly say I've never been to the theatre, this sounds like a really interesting play xx

  10. July 5, 2015 / 1:53 pm

    We love trips to the theatre when we get the time, but I'm not sure about being buried alive. Not even play acting!

  11. July 5, 2015 / 4:20 pm

    OOh, I loved the book but never realised you could see it at the theatre, how fab x

  12. July 6, 2015 / 8:55 am

    I love the theatre but haven't been for a very long time

  13. July 6, 2015 / 10:21 am

    Ooh I love his novels so can imagine it would be great to see a live theatre interpretation!

  14. July 10, 2015 / 8:03 pm

    Oh one of my biggest fears is being buried alive – I watch too many thrillers and films! Kaz x

  15. July 11, 2015 / 10:53 pm

    I love theatre but not been to anything as sinister as this! Sounds like it was brilliant though, I'd love to see it, pity it's finished although Birmingham is a bit far for me anyway!

  16. July 12, 2015 / 6:38 pm

    I've never read his novels but this looks like a great play – I love going to the theatre!

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