🎭 Wish You Were Dead
📍 Richmond Theatre
🎫 PR invite

Peter James’ best-selling novel, ‘Wish You Were Dead’ returns to the stage with a thrilling production and star-studded cast.

The story

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his wife, Cleo (George Rainsford and Giovanna Fletcher), head to France with their newborn son, for their first holiday together. Cleo hopes the holiday will finally be a chance for her and Roy to spend quality time, without the interruption of his demanding, crime-solving job. They are joined by Kaitlynn (Gemma Stroyan), the fiancee of Roy’s colleague Jack, who agrees to babysit Noah. 

As they arrive at their French chateau, which resembles more of a haunted house, the guests notice a strange atmosphere and suspicions arise. From flickering lights to no mobile signal to a knight in shining armour (yes, really). The sarcastic host, Madam L’Eveque (Rebecca McKinnis) appears to greet the guests, but her demeanour sparks even more doubt about their stay.

DS Roy and Cleo’s dream holiday quickly turns into a nightmare, as a dark past comes back to haunt them.

My thoughts

My first impressions were of Matthew Holt’s intricately designed set, which featured a split-level stage of the living room and bedroom. I loved the clever use of gauze that revealed the secret room, adding to the mystery. The stuffed animal heads and an obnoxiously large painting of The Crucifixion added to the haunting atmosphere and led up to what the show was going to entail.

The sinister music throughout the play certainly added to the suspense, as did the bursts of thunder and lightning however, these were played too loud and were not always necessary. 

Although it was revealed quickly, the twist was good. It made an appropriate ending to the first act, however, I couldn’t help but feel it veered into a farce – the audience’s laughter didn’t help either. Once we discovered the villains’ motivations, the second act featured several witty back-and-forth dialogues between the characters. Despite the brandishing of weapons, there was still a lack of tension and just an overall threat to the guests.

Clive Mantle’s villainous role as Curtis provided humour, with some comical lines/delivery. Whether this was intentional, I enjoyed their portrayal as the bitter, grief-stricken father, seeking revenge. Rainsford and Fletcher are convincing as a couple, and I enjoyed Rainsford’s strong performance as the determined detective. They had me fully engaged, particularly during those final scenes. 

While ‘Wish You Were Dead’ did feature a predictable plot, I still enjoyed this crime-thriller and can see why Peter James’ stage adaptions have been a success!

‘Wish You Were Dead’ is playing at Richmond Theatre until Saturday 22 April 2023.