Theatre review: 'Not Dead Enough', Theatre Royal Brighton

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is a local hero. His rule-breaking mannerisms, riddled with his tortured soul, have always helped him and his team at Sussex Police to catch the bad guy in the end. 

Each case has been packed into books, with 18 million copies sold worldwide, placing him in the Sunday Times no. 1 spot 11 times, as well as reaching the top of the charts in Germany, France, Russia and Canada, and hitting the New York Times best-seller list. They've been translated into 37 languages, too.

Roy's got many people to thank for his success: Peter James, an internationally-acclaimed crime writer for dreaming him up, and people like my Grandma and I for believing he exists - until he solves the crime and the book gathers dust on our shelf, that is. 

For those new to the world of crime fiction, Peter James is a local hero too. He's an original Brighton Guy, born, bred and still residing a little outside the city. His mother, Cornelia James, was the former glovemaker to the Queen, says Wikipedia.

On Thursday 18th February, Peter James joined myself and hundreds of other crime fiction enthusiasts in the packed-out Theatre Royal, as we watched Roy solve yet another masterful crime. The third case that Peter brought to life.

Although, in this case, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace was actually Shane Richie, who's better known as Alfie from Eastenders, and his love interest was Laura Whitmore, who's been a presenter on pretty much every show you can present for. 

The Plot

If you're a fan of English drama - you know, Midsomer Murders, Frost, Lewes and all of the other wondrous ITV creations - you'll like this. 

The plot is packed with little twists, fuelling your adrenalin for the moments when you think you cracked the case, then quickly realise you didn't. Well, unless you've read the book, that is. (And if you have, I'd skim this bit anyway.)

In a nutshell, the plot follows the investigation of a woman brutally murdered at the beginning of the play. Roy and his team work with his pathologist girlfriend Cleo and her team to crack the case, which becomes growingly sinister - with the husband as the main suspect, of course.

It's not necessarily a Silent Witness type plot where you find yourself connecting sporadic dots and branching off into contradictory streams of outcomes. But it's the perfect plot for keeping you comfortable and combating intellectual boredom with the occasional "why did he lie/pick that up/ask that question?"

The Acting

It's fair to say that Roy, his colleagues and the subjects within his case were well-cast. Shane Richie works just as well as a man on the right side of the law, as he does when he was up to no good on Albert Square.

Laura Whitmore was a wonderful choice for Cleo - strong, hardworking and love-able, much like the lady herself. 

The villain was a little melodramatic, comparable to Count Olaf in the 'Series of Unfortunate Events'. That decision, likely to have been made by the director, Ian Talbot, felt out of place as the general vibe of the acting throughout was that it was fit for any ITV studio, but the villain seemed to throw the Royal Shakespeare Theatre into the mix.

Though maybe we'd all go Shakespeare on our enemies if our story was like the villain's. 

Final Thoughts

Anyone who chooses ITV drama's over Celebrity Juice would enjoy this play to some degree. You're just replacing your PJs with actual evening wear, your front room (or bedroom) with a beautifully grand Grade II listed building and taking away the TV screen.

There's also that moment of humanity when you wonder whether or not it's really intended that Laura Whitmore's office chair nearly falls off the stage with her on it. I suppose I'll have to watch it again to know for sure.

With Brighton being his hometown and playing such a monumental part in his novels, we had the pleasure of hearing a few words from Peter James at the end of the play. He shared a few stories from the Sussex Police Charitable Trust, who have supported thousands of real-life Roy Grace's over many years. To find out more about them, you can find some more information here

The 'Not Dead Enough' crew have packed up the stage and left for Malvern, but the show's on the road for a while and stopping at many more cities on the way - which you can see a full list for here. If you think your friends, parents or grandparents would be intrigued, pass this review onto them. 

Written by Pippa, who also writes over on pippasays.com.

ArtsBrighton Girl