“A Thrilling Night of Theatre!“
**** 4 Stars
Crime and Thriller writer Peter James has turned his character DS Roy Grace into an icon of literature and with 19 books in the series his novels have brought a steady stream of Crime Thrillers to the stage and now it’s the turn of the 2021 novel “Wish you were dead” to transfer to the stage following the adaptation of four other books in the series. This one however puts its tongue firmly in its cheek and delivers a thrilling night of theatre.
Telling the story of DS Grace (a sublime George Rainsford, turning in a well crafted and understated performance) who wants to get away from it all on holiday by booking the Chateau-sur-L’Eveque in rural France. A chance to enjoy time with his wife Cleo Grace (well delivered by Giovanna Fletcher) and his new born baby. Family friends Kaitlynn Carter (Gemma Stroyan) and Jack Alexander (Alex Stedman) join them to share both babysitting duties and red wine. Upon arrival at the Chateau not all is as its seems, as Roy Grace must confront shadowy figures from his past to protect the future of his friends and family. The excellent Clive Mantle as “Curtis” is a criminal don from Brighton who ropes in what’s left of his obliterated family to reek his revenge on Roy Grace for the injustices he feels even if has no one to blame but himself.
Adapted for the stage by Shaun McKenna from James’s novel this is the fifth production to be adapted from the “Grace” series and is the best so far as it blends a real thriller element with humour and Director Jonathan O’Boyle sets a blistering pace with his well drilled ensemble cast mining the script for comedy moments but easily delivering those moments of deep suspenseful tension that drives the highly engaging story along.
Production wise Michael Holt’s clever set design works well and takes up the whole thrust of the Festival theatre’s impressively large stage and the production is all the better for it, allowing the cast to play across the entire set and thanks to an inventive use of Gauze screens takes the audience around the entire chateau. Jason Taylor’s evocative lighting design delivers on the money especially the lingering seconds in the darkness with just moon light streaming through, these never linger to long but do add wonderful theatricality overall. Composer and Sound Designer Max Pappenheim music succeeds in bringing quality to the production but the sounds effects especially gun shots could be a bit more realistic if not louder as a couple of these shots are a tad to comedic.
Over all Wish you were dead delivers everything it should, a quality evening of dramatic theatre with a dash of comedy. An engaging story, universally excellent performances! Hurry along to the Festival Theatre for tickets, because trust us; this is a show worth dying for!
Wish You Were Dead, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 8th April, for tickets go to: Peter James’ Wish You Were Dead (capitaltheatres.com)