The latest stage adaptation of Peter James's detectrive novels is at Milton Keynes Theatre this week.
Wish You Were Dead is the sixth stage show adapted from the novels, as well as a new ITV series, Grace. It features a star studded cast including George Rainsford (Ethan Hardy in Casualty) as Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, actress, novelist, podcaster, ‘I’m A Celebrity’ winner and Baby Club host, Giovanna Fletcher as Grace's new wife Cleo Morey, Gemma Stroyan as Grace's American childminder Kaitlynn Carter and Clive Mantle (Casualty, Game of Thrones and Vicar of Dibley) as Curtis.
This is more of a thriller than a whodunnit, with plenty of jumps and loud noises as DS Grace, his new wife Cleo and their baby go on holiday to the very dodgy Airbnb Chateau-sur-L'Eveque in rural France. They're hoping for some relaxing bike rides, forest walks and relaxation, but unsurprisingly, the terrible service, eerie decor and dodgy electrics are just the beginning of their problems as their holiday from hell descends into farcical melodrama.
Peter James may not quite be Agatha Christie but he is certainly popular and this is a very entertaining show which doesn't shy away from rehashing some of the most well-used tropes - of course, the car's broken down, it's raining and there's no telephone line (mobile signal or wifi). Expect dramatic thunder sound effects, flickering lights and suits of armour that aren't what they seem...
The plot is pretty much completed by the interval with the second act consisting of a band of criminals being about to shoot the hero for apparently a whole day and night. The unlikely plot is made up for by a great cast who do their best to inject a sense of drama with a passionate and convincing performance from Giovanni Fletcher who makes her inanimate baby almost come to life. George Rainsford is a cocky, confident Grace who barely flinches when his childminder is taken outside to be executed, and Clive Mantle is fantastic as the criminal mastermind Curtis - I actually found myself wishing he would actually carry out some of his threatened atrocities.
It's hard to tell how seriously the show takes itself but it's hugely entertaining and will certainly leave you exhilarated.