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Mar 1st

Not Dead Enough, Bristol Hippodrome

By G.D. Mills




The murder mystery play lends itself to a certain theatricality, indeed, may be considered an essential part of its DNA. Think Poirot with his silly Belgian accent and his equally silly hirstute upper lip, or Holmes with deerstalker, pipe and ornate turn of phrase – both singular eccentrics surrounded by outsized characters, with their lisps and their limps and their monobrows and their monocles, any one of whom may have ‘dunnit’, for revenge, with the meatcleaver, in the drawing room. Not Dead Enough unfortunately lacks many of the long established theatrical elements required to engage.


Apart from the deranged killer, whose favoured modus operandi takes on a sadomasochistic quality, the leaden characters and their clunking dialogue were as dull as the set: the clinical grey of a mortuary, and the granite grey of a police headquarters, do not an alluring backdrop make.


If I was on the edge of my seat at all it was to hear what was being said: I strained to hear much of the dialogue until the amplification system kicked in, and even then I struggled. Shane Ritchie is competent as the no frills detective with a troubled past (sound a little too familiar?) but he shares little chemistry with pathologist partner Cleo Morey (Laura Whitmore), a beautiful Irish girl who skitters carelessly across the stage in her unlikely portrayal of one who must deal daily with death. DC Roy Grace sleuths alongside Branson (Michael Quartey) who, perhaps mindful of the sound issues, bellows his lines across the auditorium as if he’s in a builder’s yard.



Based on the hugely successful novels of Peter James, this gritty procedural will transfer well to the television format. where the noir-ish elements can be explored and there is room to dig inside the characters’ skin. On the stage, however, it simply feels like a genre misapplied. Not Dead Enough was simply Not Alive Enough for my money.

You can catch Not Dead Enough on tour. For more details visit