Review: Fear and laughing in Dead Simple

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Dead Simple, Belgrade Theatre until January 31

Dead Simple is Peter James’s second foray into theatre.

The story centres on a stag-night prank of evil proportions. Wealthy property developer Michael Harrison’s (Jamie Lomas) ‘friends’ decide to bury him in a coffin for a laugh.

But things goes horribly wrong when the lads, who are the only ones to know where he is, are killed in a car crash.

Suspicions soon begin to dawn that the trick might not be so funny after all.

Soon, almost everyone in Michael’s life is implicated.

James’s many fans will probably like this production. And to be fair, it does feature some truly scary moments, particularly when Michael’s disembodied voice calls out from the grave.

His only hope of rescue then is young Davey Wheeler (Josh Brown), a none-too-bright teenager with fantasies of cop stardom.

Unfortunately the play never gets close to evoking the wickedness that supposedly drives some of the other characters to do their evil acts, and if you’re familiar with the genre it isn’t too difficult to figure out who did what.

Josh Brown’s playing was superb, both comic and touching and by far the best performance of the night.

He was the only one to absorb me in his role.

But parts of the set literally wobbled, and most of the star-studded cast were playing stereotypes.

Shaun McKenna is a fine playwright with some great credits to his name, and he has done sterling work to convert James’s novel for the stage.

But for me this production was too simple, psychologically, by far.

Ratin 6/10

By Nick Le Mesurier