Theatre review: Not Dead Enough

Bill Ward plays Detective Superintendent Roy Grace with Laura Whitmore as pathologist Cleo
Bill Ward plays Detective Superintendent Roy Grace with Laura Whitmore as pathologist Cleo
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First the bad news: there are no claims to be made about this Peter James thriller, adapted by Shaun McKenna, as a serious piece of drama, or even a respectably well-crafted one. The story creaks like an old cell door and the ending is preposterous, and some of the acting barely rises above the level of the script, which sets a pretty low bar.

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh **

When it comes to sheer vitality, though, you have to hand it to a show that features a violent murder with kinky sexual overtones, and a corpse sitting up and yelling in the morgue in the first five minutes; and so it is that this improbable tale of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, his lovely pathologist girlfriend Cleo, and the case of murdered Brighton businessman’s wife Katie Bishop, grabs us by the throat and compels us to pay attention, through all its implausible twists and turns.

The main strength of the show lies in some strong, hard-working performances from the core team of actors, including Bill Ward as Grace, Laura Whitmore as Cleo, Gemma Stroyan as DC Moy, and Michael Quartey as Grace’s sidekick Branson, who has to put up with some strange retro jokes about his Caribbean origins. This is thoroughly old-fashioned theatre, in other words, like a stage version of a 1970s cop show with a few sex games thrown in, but Ian Talbot’s production sustains its energy levels against the odds – just enough to give a good night out to those who like a whodunnit, and who fancy a couple of hours of complete distraction from anything that looks much like reality.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Final performances today.