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Wish You Were Dead

Tense and deliciously dark thriller illuminated by a stellar cast

The latest adaption of Peter James’ detective Roy Grace is brilliantly brough tot life by Director Jonathan O’Boyle. Set in rural France, Grace (George Rainsford – Casualty, Holby, Doctors) is on holiday with his wife Cleo (the uber talented Giovanna Fletcher), their nanny Kaitlynn (Gemma Stroyan – Taggart) and baby son Noah. Expecting a bijou chambre d’ote, they are instead met by seemingly surly and quite dismissive housekeeper Mdme L’Eveque who clearly isn’t impressed by the groups expectations, nor their anticipation that an ancient chateau will provide the usual modern day methods of communications – that there is no wifi, nor mobile phone signal leaves the holiday makers feeling somewhat isolated and exposed.

Quite quickly, the atmosphere shifts from quirky (dare I say quaint) French eccentrics to a more sinister sense of not all being quite as it seems. Little clues, out of place photographs and a strange banging noise from upstairs add to the unease. The 2nd act ramps up the twists and turns, spinning the audience around like a whirling dervish and introducing the irrepressible Curtis (Clive Mantle – Vicar of Dibley, Casualty, game of Thrones) who reignites Roy’s past and plunges him into the worst dilemma a husband and father can face – choosing between his wife and son.

The ending is perfect Peter James, subtle hints become lynchpins and expected outcomes are thrown away with gay abandon.

The set is phenomenal; Designer Michael Holt has created a setting in which you can almost taste the age of the old chateau, the sumptuous décor reeking of faded elegance. Likewise, the lighting by Jason Taylor quickly shifts from comforting warmth to evil harshness, all adding to the claustrophobia and trapping the audience into never daring to look away.

A wonderful thriller and a brilliant opportunity to see live some exceptional talent, Wish You Were Dead runs at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday 18th March.

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