Dead Simple

A stag night prank gone wrong is the starting point for this daring and successful murder mystery – and there are plenty of twists and turns before the end.

Adapted by Shaun McKenna from Peter James’ novel of the same name, the action centres on property developer Michael Harrison (Jamie Lomas), his fiancee (Tina Hobley) and business partner (Rik Makarem).

Lomas really suffers for his art as his friend’s practical joke of burying him in a coffin goes horribly wrong, leaving him stuck underground. Hobley proves an alluring femme fatale and Makarem reacts edgily to each plot twist as his affections for his partner are repeatedly tested.

Investigating the disappearance is James’ Det Supt Roy Grace, played with charm by Gray O’Brien and providing well-judged comic relief in partnership with Marc Small as a fellow cop.

Josh Brown as the tragically drawn-in youngster Davey Wheeler almost steals the show with an emotionally wrenching performance of a troubled young man.

Michael Taylor’s set design and Mark Howett’s lighting are exceptional: we switch convincingly from spacious Brighton flat to deadly forest and beyond. It really shows the possibility of theatre.

At the heart though is James’ exceptional story: inventive yet believable, modern and yet a classic crime yarn. It will send chills down your spine even colder than the winter winds; go see it.