NOT DEAD ENOUGH – Manor Pavilion Theatre, Sidmouth


21 August 2023




The ‘police procedural’ TV drama has, in the last few decades, become something of a fallback for those in the industry; the schedules are overloaded with them. Stage versions of the genre are, however, rare. Peter James’ full-length novels about Detective Superintendent Roy Grace all contain the word ‘Dead’ in the title – so you know where you are – their transfer to TV comes in the form of the series ‘Grace’.

This is the second year running that the Sidmouth Summer Season has included a play by James in the line-up and they seem to go down very well.

The challenge for a director and company with ‘Not Dead Enough’ is that they are presented with what amounts to a television script; little quarter is given by the writer to create a stage play, thus ingenuity, adaptability and imagination is required in quantity. Thankfully, in the hands of director Jason Marc-Williams, there is little to worry about; his ability to take a multi-scened script set in many locations and produce a gem of a result was faultlessly displayed in last year’s ‘Emma’ – here, with a more difficult script to work with, he produces a gripping, fast-paced and excellently performed thriller.

No, it isn’t the best stage play ever written, but the plotting is so multi-layered, so dense and punctuated by shocks and revelations that some matters can be forgiven for the sake of entertainment. The cast throw themselves into this hard-hitting tale of violent rape and murder with energy and, at times, with a certain amount of tongue firmly in cheek. James’ characters are fairly standard fayre, from the dour, hard-nosed detective to the chirpy assistant, the sensible female pulling things together in the background…… the list goes on. Eoin Lynch is the driving force of the plot as DS Grace and his authority gives the script substance and impact; it is a necessarily strong and impressive performance. Matthew Hartley slips into the sidekick role of DS Branson with ease; bringing out any ounce of humour he can and Emily Outred is efficiency personified as DS Moy – a cracking team. Heather Wilkins is really excellent as the no-nonsense, tough talking mortuary technician, Cleo Morey – who just happens to be having a relationship with Grace – and Molly Stewart also impresses as Morey’s less experienced assistant; the pair have to run the gamut of emotions and do so to great effect. As the ‘accused’, Brian Bishop, Jeremy Todd offers an enormous range of acting skills; a consummate and convincing performance. Katherine Dodds is wonderfully abrupt as a solicitor and Sam McInnerny an effective and rather mysterious pathologist.

The multi-location set is brilliantly designed by Andrew Beckett – cold, clinical rooms which give the whole production something of a documentary-style look. Marc-Williams gives the whole play pace with smart music and soundscape choices which help drive the momentum of the many scenes; he knows exactly where to pump up the tension which draws the audience closer and closer to the edge of their seats. The huge number of lighting and sound cues are expertly handled by Daniel Saint who operates the technical aspects of the production with spot-on precision. A shout out too for Freya Bramble who gathers a very interesting list of props together.

Another excellent entry into the 2023 line-up; a play with thrills and more twists and turns than a corkscrew.

The play runs until 26 August and tickets are available at Next week is the thriller, ‘The Mating Game’ by Robin Hawdon which runs from 28 August until 2 September.


Cast & Creatives

DS Roy Grace – Eoin Lynch

Cleo Morey – Heather Wilkins

Brian Bishop – Jeremy Todd

Glenn Branson – Matthew Hartley

Bella Moy – Emily Outred

Sophie Harrington – Molly Stewart

Katie Bishop/Lara Lloyd – Katherine Dodds

Dr Theobald Fraser – Sam McInnerny


Writer – Peter James

Director – Jason Marc-Williams

Design – Andrew Beckett

Lighting & Sound Operation & Design – Stage Tech Services

Costume Supervisor – Jan Huckle & Phoebe Fleetham

Set Builders – Henry Hayward, James Prendergast

Set Assistant – Dominic McChesney

Deputy Stage Manager – Daniel Saint

Photo Credit – Andrew Beckett

Artistic Director – Paul Taylor-Mills

Season Associate Producer – Andrew Beckett


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