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Culture Theatre

Looking Good Dead Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Looking Good Dead is a surprisingly hilarious thriller starring Adam Woodyatt (better known as Ian from Eastenders). The play focuses on a dysfunctional nuclear family living in suburban Brighton and the absolute carnage that ensues when the father brings home a memory stick left behind by another passenger on a train. When his son hacks the stick, he finds a link to a live snuff video and, naturally, the criminal organisers of this are less than thrilled with their unauthorised access, putting him and his family in grave danger.

I’m not somebody who is particularly invested in the thriller genre, so when I saw the adverts about Peter James (the author of the novel it was adapted from), I didn’t give it much thought, since the last big name I was aware of in thrillers was Stephen King. However, the best part of this play is definitely the unpredictable nature of the plot. I can’t think of any other word than thrilling to describe the twists and turns, which shows how well it lived up to its promise. This play keeps you on the very edge of your seat for the best part of two hours.

It is endlessly impressive that the show manages to find humour even in some of its darkest moments. There were moments where I was guffawing at scenes that were truly shocking. This is artful; it ensures the play is not too heavy or difficult to watch. Even when wanting to look away, it is never uncomfortable, which is a very tough line to walk. In this sense, the production very much feels like a family sitcom that devolves into a thriller. This merging of the two styles is effective in keeping the audience so positively engaged.

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The set design is another major highlight. The multimedia nature of the play wonderfully connects the two locations at the same moment; the stage is divided up so that even when the police station is on stage, it is localised downstage and the Bryces’ living room further upstage. This effectively represents the disconnect between the two scenes and the two locations.

Paradoxically, this is a play that you can find really fun. It seems like it has been a while since a piece of art exists simply for enjoyment. It is usually, “these are the reasons the world is ending, now good luck enjoying the rest of your day”. It does not feel that there are any obvious examples of social commentary or any real agenda here, other than to entertain the audience. This comes across as very refreshing. The show makes for a fantastic evening, and it really doesn’t hurt to be completely star struck at seeing Ian from Eastenders.

Image via Capital Theatres