A tantalising new thriller heads to a York stage, starring Eastenders icon Adam Woodyatt.
He is best known for portraying Ian Beale on the long-running soap – and more recently proving to be a popular contestant in the last series of I’m A Celebrity.
Looking Good Dead will be at Grand Opera House York from Tuesday 29 March to Saturday 2 April 2022.
It is an adaption from the book of the same name by best-selling author Peter James. It has been adapted by award-winning writer Shaun McKenna.
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The play follows Tom Bryce (Adam Woodyatt) who hours after finding a discarded USB memory stick, inadvertently becomes a witness to a vicious murder – placing him and his family in grave danger.
He will be joined by Laurie Brett, and the pair will be reunited to once again play husband and wife – as Laurie portrayed Jane Beale in Eastenders.
Also in the cast are Harry Long as Roy Grace, Ian Houghton as Jonas, Leon Stewart as Branson, Gemma Stroyan as Bella, Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Max Bryce, Mylo McDonald as Mick and Natalie Boakye as Janie.
Tickets start from £13 and can be purchased via the Grand Opera House York website.
Q&A with Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brett
What can audiences expect when they come to see Looking Good Dead – no spoilers!
Adam: It’s a really brilliant production. Peter James’ story is excellent, and the script has been adapted beautifully. It’s got thrills, fun, twists and turns and I am confident that people can have a lovely evening or afternoon out.
Laurie: They’re going to be coming to see a murder mystery – it’s very Peter James. It’s a story about a normal married couple who suffer the consequences after bringing an abandoned memory stick home. There’s going to be lots of laughs, gasps, and a brilliant twist. I can normally work out a twist at the end, and I can say that when I read the script for the first time, I did not see it coming! The outcome is very surprising.
Can you tell us a bit about who you play in the show? Can you relate to them in any way?
A: I play Tom Bryce, he’s a businessman, husband, father, basically a very normal bloke. So he’s easy to relate to in many ways.
L: Kellie is a very interesting character; on the surface she seems like a suburban housewife but she’s actually multi-layered. For me, she’s a woman who has some sadness in her, a real sense of unfulfillment – unfulfilled talents, unfulfilled dreams – and she has some secrets. She’s like a swan, that glides along, looking good, but she’s frantically paddling underneath. She has a lot of guilt and regrets, which for me is very interesting to play. I don’t really relate to her as I don’t have any regrets, and I wouldn’t put myself in the same position that she puts herself in.
You’ve previously worked together as a married couple on EastEnders (Ian and Jane Beale), how does it differ working together this time around?
A: This time it’s on stage and not on TV. It’s great working with Laurie again, it’s very easy, comfortable. There is a familiarity that is just there.
L: It’s no different at all. Adam and I had an instant chemistry way back in 2004, and whether it’s on stage or on screen, we’ve got a shorthand that you’ve either got or you haven’t, so we’re very lucky in that respect. We know each other so well, so it’s a great thing, getting to play with the characters and explore their dynamic. It’s no different to being on the telly, we just have to be slightly different technically. It’s an absolute joy.
Peter James has sold millions of books, which have been Number One on the Bestseller List 19 times, but why do you think the adaptation of his books to stage has been so successful?
A: The adaptations are always faithful to the book, but with a twist or a tiny change so that even someone who knows the book incredibly well isn’t one hundred percent certain what is going to happen, which adds a brilliant element of surprise and anticipation. Added to that, as well as the thrills there’s some good humour in the plays. I think there’s a lot to look forward to in Looking Good Dead.
L: I think murder mystery and crime stories, such as Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple, have long been a part of British culture, which makes stage productions in this genre greatly appealing to the British public and the Peter James plays are a very successful modern day version of that, which appeals to today’s audiences.
Why do you think audiences love to see a good thriller on stage?
A: I really enjoy a good thriller. I’m not one for horrors, but something that makes you jump a bit and gets your adrenaline going is great entertainment. If we can draw people in and make them believe everything and end with a sharp intake of breath, then I think we have done our job. It’s one of those chances to get a thrill in a safe space.
L: I think people just love a good mystery, myself included, and we love to have a go at guessing ‘whodunit’.
What’re you most looking forward to about taking the show on the road?
A: I’m so looking forward to getting to see some parts of the country that I have never visited before. I’m also looking forward to spending my daytimes with my bike and having a wander around the local areas. I’m also really looking forward to seeing the different theatres. I know that around the country there are some stunning and historic buildings everywhere. I’ve done the same job for 36 years so to have a chance to go and enjoy myself touring the country is so exciting for me.
L: It’s a real joy getting the chance to work with Adam again, so performing with him every night is definitely a highlight. I feel very lucky to be on the stage again because the buzz of live theatre and that relationship that exists between actor and audience is really thrilling. I also love the fact that every show is always a little bit different.
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