Crime Peter James style comes to Newcastle

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Crime Peter James’ style came to Newcastle last night and what a feast of deceit and betrayal it was. Now we love Peter James here at the booktrail and his thriller Dead Simple is one of our favourites. So how would this translate to stage?

Very very well is the dead simple answer….

The lights dimmed, then went black. Silence. Well apart from some old lady a few seats away opening up her mint humbugs. And then BOOM,  a voice – that of Peter James himself warning us that we should turn off our mobile phones or risk being the next victim. A nice touch. Kept humbug lady quiet as well…

Then the curtain went up…

Wedding plans are being made, the groom-to-be is a man who has pranked his mates one too many times and so they have something spectacular in mind. They tell him and his fiancee that it’s just a pub crawl but you know it’s not. This is Peter James after all…

So, he’s kidnapped by his mates (In frightening clown masks brrrr) taken out to a wood and buried alive. They drive off with plans to come back hours later. Only a car crash on the motorway puts paid to that plan..

And that’s only the start…

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Can’t say more without spoiling the plot but suffice to say the stars of the show were fantastic. Tina Hobley (Casualty) as the fiancee played a blinder (and what a nice appartment she has!), her husband to be, Jamie Lomas, played a troubled and anguished soul with skill as did his best friend and property developer partner Mark (Emmerdale’s Nikhil). Star of the show was Simple Davey (Josh Bown) who raised more than a laugh and inward gasp. The story really depends on how well you believe this young and emotionally stunted young man who lives in his own little world of cop shows and computer games. And we did!

All very believable with a sense of there’s something not quite right with this little picture of cosy bliss…and offshore bank accounts.

Thrills and spills aplenty. And the genius of this adaptation for us was the way the stage split in three – the appartment on the right, Simple Davey’s garage on the left and above, a wooded area with a coffin in the ground…..

And if darkness and impending terror is not considered a stage prop then it is now – used to maximum chilling effect. There is one moment where silence was deafening…the tension high…..and then the entire audience shrieked out in horror. A few ladies next to us got very disturbed. Got one of those random humbugs in my lap…

Just as well the next scene was set in daylight – we needed a bit of sunshine to calm us all down. Didn’t last long though…

A special mention has to go to the fantastic Gray O’Brien who played  Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. He was dark,  mysterious, misunderstood and troubled- everything a good cop should be. Sidekick DS Branson was a  great character – funny, charming and a great help to Roy Grace. We liked his wit and irony – they made a great double act. And it was nice to see them in real life so to speak!

Dead Simple is at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday, May 30. Get your tickets from http://www.theatreroyal.co.uk/  or phone  08448 112121

The play has its own website – http://www.deadsimpletheplay.co.uk/index.html

And just one tip – don’t take humbugs…