Requiem for a stag

Dead Simple

The New Alexandra Theatre

***

IT IS said that Peter James is one of the UKs most treasured crime writers and with millions of books sold its hard to argue that he is not popular.

Whilst any novel has the luxury of long detailed explanations and the ability to jump from location to location in your imagination, the same story, when delivered in the hard confines of a stage, will need some heavy thought process in the editing and well planned ideas to make it work as well.

Perhaps then this is where this adaption, by Shaun McKenna, struggles in that the issues in conveying the varied locations in a story like Dead Simple, here both above and below ground, makes it difficult to connect to some other wise good performances.

What we are left with is a several unexplained plot holes and a series of well-acted cameos that have their merit, but do not connect in a way that keeps the tension flowing or the attention held.

It also seems that Director Ian Talbot is not quite sure to make it a thriller or a pantomime and instead when there is `banter’ between characters he has his actors play it far too hard to the audience to get a laugh, rather than keeping it all in the confines of this dark horror story.

AlMichael and Ashleyfred Hitchcock once said `to get real suspense you must give the audience information’. Of course too much and that might give the game away but here you do not get enough. You accept the villain has been caught in the end and the jumps in the action in the hope all be revealed in a complete explanation but these are only partial.

Jamie Lomas as Michael Harrison and Tina Hobley as Ashley Harper Picture: Alastair Muir

The seemingly well planned crime by the master mind seems dependent on some happy `unhappy ‘accidents and that in retrospect shoot holes through the whole story. 

Jamie Lomas plays Michael Harrison, partner in a successful property business and soon to be married to the glamourous and leggy Ashley Harper played by Tina Hobley. Mark Warren his business partner and long-time friend, played by Rik Makarem, is called away on the eve of his friend’s wedding rehearsal.

While he is gone a group of their male friends play a deadly stag night game on Michael. The stunt goes horribly wrong, setting in motion a chain of events, complex twists and turns that keep you guessing. All three delivered some convincing performances with Miss Hobley employing her long legs to good use in a very `Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct’ kind of a way.

James’ sleuth Superintendent Roy Grace was played by Gray O’brien, known to many as nasty man Tony from Coronation Street. Working alongside detective Branson, played by Marc Small, the paring quip and banter about relationship issues and women a little too lightly to add any depth to the characters. It’s good fun for the audience but hardly makes them feel as though they are committed to solving the crime.

Michael Mckell played Bradley, the Uncle of Ashley, and showed great range in having to deliver two very different personas. Josh Brown completes the main line up as Davey, a complex, neurotic youth who becomes fatally embroiled in the proceedings. All in all this potentially gripping tale of wrongful internment , coffins and a lethal honey trap, suffers in the technical difficulties of translation and the bringing of it to life on the stage. Whilst it keeps you well entertained in the end it’s the tension that gets murdered and the plot that gets buried. To 04-07-15

Jeff Grant

29-06-15 

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