Review: Looking Good Dead at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

THE key to a good thriller is the element of surprise – something extraordinary happening at a time when you least expect it.

Peter James’ thriller Looking Good Dead is packed with twists and turns and it doesn’t fail to surprise with every grim detail as it is uncovered in the production.

Starring Adam Woodyatt as protagonist Tom Bryce, the former Eastender actor gave a brilliant performance as the down at heel father who happens upon a computer memory stick dropped by a stranger on a train.

He seemingly wants to do the right thing and return the memory stick once he has had a look at its content.

The content of the stick is truly shocking and leads to a horrific conclusion.

As head of a crumbling family, Woodyatt plays the part perfectly as he struggles to live life with his Wagyu beef eating wife Kelli Bryce, played by Woodyatt’s former Eastenders partner Laurie Brett.

The pair share a real chemistry on set as they head through the challenges of life in 2022. There are some pieces of comic genius as Woodyatt leans on his son Max Bryce, effortlessly played by Luke Ward-Wilkinson.

Cultural references hit home with the audience who were all too familiar with the tech savvy teenagers at home and there are real moments of humour in this dark play as the Bryce family struggle against a backdrop of debt and failing business.

The destruction of the modern shared family is brilliantly played by the cast on a clever and minimalist stage.

Elements of truly shocking nature are in store with this production and the Everyman should be congratulated for having the bravery to stage such a thriller. Snuff films and violence all make a showing in this modern thriller and had the audience gasping with delighted horror at points.

As the kidnap plot is played out behind a screen at the rear of the stage the disintegration of the family tales place stage front.

Some clever writing helps give the police a comic edge which gives some light relief to the intense and terrifying action.

There is a huge twist in the tale for the audience which I won’t reveal but it is well worth the wait during this clever tale of broken trust and love.

Thrillers at the theatre are a risk and violence or horror is hard to pull off convincingly but director Jonathon O’Boyle did a grand job of turning Peter James’ story into an enthralling show.

Looking Good Dead is at the Everyman until Saturday April 30

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