Eastbourne - "superb performance in unconventional thriller"

Review by by Tony Flood. Dead Lies, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne, From Wednesday, June 15th to Saturday, June 18th

Dead Lies
Dead Lies

Jeremy Edwards, of Hollyoaks and Holby City fame, gives a superb performance in unconventional thriller Dead Lies as the new 'messiah' of British politics, who gets caught up in scandal, sex and murder.

His larger-than-life character Peter George promises to restore trust if he is elected Prime Minister, while going to great lengths to prevent a shocking incident from his past being revealed.

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Edwards shares some lively scenes with Alicia Charles as his media adviser Kate Compton.

Best selling novelist Hilary Bonner provides an intriguing story, but it is too wordy, causing the play to last well over two hours, with some scenes drawn out, despite the efforts of critically acclaimed director Joe Harmston.

Ironically, the script has one character telling another to “get to the point.”

On the plus side there are several clever twists, including a great ending, and up-to-date impropriety at Westminster, with digs at Boris over Partygate and an MP watching porn on his phone in the commons. But overall the story has similarities to the downfall of Jeremy Thorpe in the 1970s.

All goes well with George's election campaign until the unexpected appearance of treacherous Marcus Cunningham, convincingly played by Peter Rae. Cunningham taunts his former friend before eventually getting round to making a blackmail threat.

Kate warns her boss that mixing with Cunningham could be harmful if the media latches on to it. She has some lively exchanges with George, but there are no signs from their body language that they have had a passionate affair until it is revealed later.

Andrew McDonald and Portia Booroff are excellent as leading political journalist Alan Parfit and ‘supportive wife’ Jo George, while Clare Dyson perfectly portrays drug-taking former model Stephanie Jones.

A dedicated cast is completed by George Verghis and Neve Doyle, whose role as DI Fellows would have been more convincing had she dressed appropriately.

The production uses tall video screens to provide information in the form of TV news footage. When a systems failure prevented these screens working on Tuesday the audience was informed that the performance had to be cancelled.

But the problem was solved so that the play could go ahead for the rest of the week.

Review by by Tony Flood