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Review: Dead Simple at Newcastle Theatre Royal

The Revenge of the Stag Do

Dead Simple
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until 30th May 2015.

Every twist and turn of the UK’s most treasured crime and thriller writer’s classic story is brought to the stage.

Michael Harrison is a successful property developer. He is about to marry the love of his life, the beautiful Ashley, whom he met through his business. Ashley’s Uncle Bradley has come across from Canada for the wedding and he isn’t complementary about some English customs such as drinking tea.

Gray O'Brien as Detective Roy  Grace
& Tina Hobley in Dead Simple
Photo: Alastair Muir
Michael has left the arrangement of his stag do to his business partner, and best mate since school, Mark. Michael has been a bit of a prankster in the past and left grooms in embarrassing situations on their stag nights so he is concerned about what they have in store for him. Mark assures him that he has nothing to worry about but then gets called to a business meeting in Leeds. The others start the celebration without Mark but the lads’ plans start to unravel after their van crashes.

Photo: Alastair Muir
Young Davey Wheeler helps his Dad recover the vehicle from the sight of the accident and he finds a clue which could help solve a major problem: Where is Michael? The only problem is that Davey doesn’t want to admit to his Dad that he took something from the crash scene. Bride to be Ashley pleads with the police to start a search for her other half even though the time that had elapsed was quite short.

Detective Sergeant Branson decides to bring Detective Superintendent Grace on board despite his recent ridicule in the press. Grace had used a psychic called Zoe Frame to assist in a recent case and the press had used this against him.

The set is split into 3 which has enabled director Ian Talbot to keep the narrative flowing.  Mark Howett’s lighting design is able to pick out the action including the coming and going of various vehicles.   The only disappointment was the odd sound of gunfire which sounded like it was a computer game rather than a firearm.

Jamie Lomas as Michael Harrison
and Tina Hobley as Ashley Harper
in Dead Simple Photo: Alastair Muir
The talented cast are great storytellers. Award-winning soap heart throb Jamie Lomas (EastEnders, Hollyoaks) and Holby City’s Tina Hobley are fantastic as the loving couple of Michael and Ashley. Emmerdale’s Rik Makarem is convincing as the lifelong best mate, with all of the baggage that comes  with that. The police roles of Grace and Branson are confidently handled by Gray O’Brien and Marc Small.

Special mention should go to Josh Brown in his first professional theatre role as X-box playing Davey Wheeler. He had the bulk of the laughs and was a character that the audience could quickly have empathy for.

The story twists and turns in order to keep the audience guessing in a way which would make Agatha Christie proud. In a tale that draws shocks and laughter in equal measure, it keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.  It is an experience which shows how the collective live theatre experience can excel over television.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide by Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Dead Simpleappears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tue 26 – Sat 30 May 2015 (Evenings: 7.30pm, Matinees: Wed and Thur 2.30pm).

Tickets from £14 (online price) Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at

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