Wednesday 21 February 2018

Theatre review: Not Dead Enough at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre - 'If plot twists are your thing, the major turn this takes is completely unforeseen'

Laura Whitmore acquits herself admirably in her professional acting debut

Laura Whitmore at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin. Pic: Brian McEvoy

Katy Hayes

Peter James’ popular Roy Grace detective novels have a huge readership and this is the third one to be transformed into a commercial theatre show. The night opens dramatically with the strangling of a woman, a Brighton socialite and charity fund-raiser, and suspicion immediately falls on the husband.

The show is smart and disciplined and tightly focused. Michael Holt’s design divides the stage into three main areas: the mortuary is on a raised platform to the rear, and to the fore are the detectives’ office and an interrogation room. This is basically a police procedural, more reminiscent of a TV show than a stage play; most of the acting talent has heavyweight TV cred, from all the big British soaps to Strictly Come Dancing.

Irish TV presenter Laura Whitmore acquits herself admirably in her professional acting debut, with a sweet, low-key interpretation of pathologist Cleo Morey, full of girl-next-door charm. There is a top-notch performance from Stephen Billington as the much-interrogated husband. Bill Ward played the detective Roy Grace on the Dublin opening night with plenty of charisma. In this run, the role is shared with Shane Ritchie, who will perform it on April 21 & 22.

Shaun McKenna’s stage adaptation has an episodic character, as is often the hallmark of a work taken from a novel, but director Ian Talbot gallups the story along at a snappy pace. You will have to overlook the gargantuan lack of depth and nuance, but if plot twists are your thing, the major turn this takes is completely unforeseen.

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