Review: Dead Simple @ New Theatre
A good murder mystery is a great thing. Even through much familiarity, they can grip, shock and fill a person with the utmost suspense.
Sadly, very little of this was felt by this humble critic for a performance of Dead Simple, based on Peter James' novel of the same name. Lacking any real sense of intrigue or even charm, this story would be no different than on a rainy Sunday evening's TV viewing. With characters you couldn't give a hoot about, half of these being infuriating portrayals of mediocre plonkers.
Involving a stag do gone horribly wrong, being buried alive (James' own confessed love of Poe), double bluffs and a few "What a twist!" moments, the play even incorporates a totally useless plot device of a medium who could possibly solve the case (she does not). A charm bracelet keen to be a MacGuffin also falls flat on its face, especially when the superintendent forgets to hand it over to the medium (!!!).
I may have flinched during a jump scare, yet most of the plot twists were predicable and uninspired. Some of the dialogue was terribly generic and some of the acting was average. The northern accents became bothersome, then American/Canadian accents became cataclysmically disrupting. Josh Brown playing Davey gave a sensitive portrayal of a young man with learning difficulties. Davey's love of American cop shows came to life in his relentless mimicry of American accents and dialogue/banter from these shows.
I feel using learning difficulties like Davey's for a few plot points could border on patronising, even discrimination. The hunky Rik Makarem was good, but very little else. Tina Hobley, almost like Patsy Kensit being the only female cast member, was appealing and very watchable. Making Gray O'Brien (who felt lacklustre) at the very end have a sort of grand ending as the curtain went down, felt very phoned in. Like Roy Grace is some ruddy classic detective like Marple or Morse...
If the work had any redeeming qualities, it was the atmosphere presented in the pure horror of being buried alive (similar to the 2010 film Buried). Poor Jamie Lomas as Michael is in enclosed spaces, tied up and man handled in all sorts of ways. He shouted a lot (obviously) and this could grate after a short time. We should however praise him for his efforts.
I'd rather be buried alive myself, than go through all this again.
Want to make up your own mind? Watch the vox pops above and see it for yourself!
Rating: 2 stars