Peter James’ knows a good thriller and his latest offering to be adapted to the stage, Looking Good Dead hits Milton Keynes Theatre this week with the audience dropping their jaws at its twists and turns.
No good deed goes unpunished…. hours after picking up a USB memory stick, left behind on a train seat, Tom Bryce inadvertently becomes a witness to a vicious murder. Reporting the crime to the police has disastrous consequences, placing him and his family in grave danger.
Adam Woodyatt who you all know better as Ian Beale in Eastenders, is outstanding in the role of Tom Bryce. Tom is a man trying to keep his business afloat and his wife happy, and tries really hard to be a decent human being. When he finds a USB on a train, he innocently thought he could see if it was important and then give it back to whom it belongs to. Adam is outstanding in the role. His connection with Gaynor Faye who plays his wife, Kellie, feels real and authentic. The chemistry they have is believable and even the arguments could be in anyone’s home behind closed doors. Adam is an outstanding actor and I was very impressed with his performance. Kudos Adam, on the grey beard, which also gave gravitas to the part.
Gaynor Faye is another veteran soap star and she is so watchable that you cannot take your eyes of her. Her performance is spot on for a mum and wife who is struggling with an alcohol addiction. She is trying so hard to get it all right, and the more she tries, the less that goes right. Gaynor gives a realistic portrayal and is fantastic as Kellie. I also have to give her hair a mention as a woman with curly hair myself, hers is fantastic and her ringlets have their own presence on stage.
Max is Kellie and Tom’s youngest son. Max is played by Luke Ward-Wilkinson and he absolutely nails it as a teenager who is fed up with his parents arguing (luckily, he has Beats noise reducing headphones) and missing his older brother who is on a gap year. Luke gives Max an edge with his snappy comments at his parents (and anyone who has had teenage son’s will recognise this) and his talent to get around a computer. Luke comes across as caring, but troubled and when he realises his Dad is in trouble, he does what we have all taught our children to do, he calls the police. Luke fits into this household as Max perfectly and gives an excellent performance.
In tonight’s performance, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is played by Lee Peck. Lee plays Grace with a serious air, not impressed with his colleagues ‘dad jokes’. Roy realises that there is a serial killer on the loose and knows he has to pull out all the stops. Lee gives it his all and the audience are willing him to get this right before the Bryce family fall foul of the situation they find themselves in.
I would just like to say a quick word about seeing a play in a post covid world. It was clear tonight that both the cast and the audience needed and had missed this. There were a lot of curtain calls for a Monday night and the cast were beaming their smiles of gratitude and Adam even threw a few kisses into the audience. Welcome back theatre. We have missed you!
Peter James is a number one bestselling author of crime and thriller novels and the creator of the much-loved Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, now a major ITV series, GRACE. My final word on Looking Good Dead is on the moral of this story, which could be not to pick up USB sticks on trains…but I will let you decide what you think the moral of this exciting thriller is once you have seen it yourself.
Looking good dead is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 21 August 2021. Tickets available here