Q&A with Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brett for Looking Good Dead

Q&A with Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brett for Looking Good Dead

Multi-million No.1 best-selling author Peter James returns to the Connaught Stage with the world premiere stage production of Looking Good Dead, starring award-winning actor and EastEnders’ icons, Adam Woodyatt and star of stage and screen Laurie Brett. 

The show is coming to the Connaught Theatre for several performances from Monday 4 April at 7:30pm. Read on to find out how the stars of this thrilling live theatre performance found bringing Peter James’ murder mystery tale to life. 

What can audiences expect when they come to see Looking Good Dead (no spoilers)?
Adam: It’s a really brilliant production. Peter James’ story is excellent, and the script has been adapted beautifully. It’s got thrills, fun, twists and turns and I am confident that people can have a lovely evening or afternoon out. Plus, you can get an ice cream in the interval!

Laurie: They’re going to be coming to see a murder mystery – it’s very Peter James. It’s a story about a normal married couple who suffer the consequences after bringing an abandoned memory stick home. There’s going to be lots of laughs, gasps, and a brilliant twist. I can normally work out a twist at the end, and I can say that when I read the script for the first time, I did not see it coming! The outcome is very surprising.

Can you tell us a bit about who you play in the show? Can you relate to them in any
Adam: I play Tom Bryce, he’s a businessman, husband, father, basically a very normal bloke. So he’s easy to relate to in many ways.

Laurie: Kellie is a very interesting character; on the surface she seems like a suburban housewife but she’s actually multi-layered. For me, she’s a woman who has some sadness in her, a real sense of unfulfillment – unfulfilled talents, unfulfilled dreams – and she has some secrets. She’s like a swan, that glides along, looking good, but she’s frantically paddling underneath. She has a lot of guilt and regrets, which for me is very interesting to play. I don’t really relate to her as I don’t have any regrets, and I wouldn’t put myself in the same position that she puts herself in.

You’ve previously worked together as a married couple on EastEnders (Ian and Jane
Beale), how does it differ working together this time around?
Adam: This time it’s on stage and not on TV. It’s great working with Laurie again, it’s very easy, comfortable. There is a familiarity that is just there.

Laurie: It’s no different at all. Adam and I had an instant chemistry way back in 2004, and whether it’s on stage or on screen, we’ve got a shorthand that you’ve either got or you haven’t, so we’re very lucky in that respect. We know each other so well, so it’s a great thing, getting to play with the characters and explore their dynamic. It’s no different to being on the telly, we just have to be slightly different technically. It’s an absolute joy.

What are your fondest memories from being together in Albert Square?
Adam: There were so many moments… the live ep, the tandem, the braying horse!!! And I’m looking forward to having more memorable moments.

Laurie: There’s so many, there’s too many to even think about. One that sticks out was on my eighth audition for the show (EastEnders). Out of the corner of my eye I could see this person’s head popping around the corner while I was filming a monologue to camera – it was Adam. After my audition he came up and introduced himself and escorted me out of the studio. When I actually joined the show, he just went, ‘I knew it would be you!’ From the minute we met we just couldn’t stop chatting, we really get on, and understand one another.

The previous Peter James plays have had some great star names from television and
you now join that list – what do you think attracts actors to his plays?
Adam: There have been some great names, and I actually know some of them they’re colleagues of mine! I’m really looking forward to being part of this show and I know Shane Ritchie had nothing but brilliant things to say about the Peter James productions he has beenpart of. Of course I spoke to him and asked what it was like!

Laurie: I’m not sure about everyone else, but the thing that attracted me to this play was working with Josh Andrews (the producer) again, and obviously Adam. The thought of working with Adam again, and the comfort that comes with it, was what made me want to do it.

Do you enjoy the novels of Peter James?
Adam: I have read Looking Good Dead and really enjoyed it, despite not being a massive reader. I’m hoping that the show will appeal to fans of Peter James’ novels and many more people as well. When I read the book, I was kept guessing the entire time, and I hope we can keep that excitement for audiences.

Laurie: I’ll be honest and admit that, until working on this production, I hadn’t actually read a Peter James novel, however I really enjoyed Looking Good Dead, so I’ll definitely be reading some more after this tour.

Peter has sold millions of books, which have been Number One on the Bestseller List 19 times, but why do you think the adaptation of his books to stage has been so successful?
Adam: The adaptations are always faithful to the book, but with a twist or a tiny change so that even someone who knows the book incredibly well isn’t one hundred percent certain what is going to happen, which adds a brilliant element of surprise and anticipation. Added to that, as well as the thrills there’s some good humour in the plays. I think there’s a lot to look forward to in Looking Good Dead.

Laurie: I think murder mystery and crime stories, such as Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple, have long been a part of British culture, which makes stage productions in this genre greatly appealing to the British public and the Peter James plays are a very successful modern day version of that, which appeals to today’s audiences.

Why do you think audiences love to see a good thriller on stage?
Adam: I really enjoy a good thriller. I’m not one for horrors, but something that makes you jump a bit and gets your adrenaline going is great entertainment. If we can draw people in and make them believe everything and end with a sharp intake of breath, then I think we have done our job. It’s one of those chances to get a thrill in a safe space.

Laurie: I think people just love a good mystery, myself included, and we love to have a go at guessing ‘whodunit’.

You’ve appeared on both stage and screen, do you have a preference?
Adam: What has really appealed to me about being part of Looking Good Dead is getting that live reaction. EastEnders has had massive responses when we have done live episodes. Especially in 2015 for me. I loved it. I loved that feeling of immediacy and knowing that what happens in this moment is what the audience will see there and then. I love that buzz. I’ve done pantomimes over the years which are always a favourite thing for me to do, so the prospect of being able to go out and do a theatre tour is really exciting.

Laurie: I started performing on stage at the age of five as a dancer and I do love being on stage. Being able to see, hear and feel an audience is an electric experience. It’s very different to screen work, though, and requires a totally different technique and process. If I had to choose between the two, I would probably choose working on screen just because I love the subtlety and technique involved in working well behind a camera.

What’re you most looking forward to about taking the show on the road?
Adam: I’m so looking forward to getting to see some parts of the country that I have never visited before. I’m also looking forward to spending my daytimes with my bike and having a wander around the local areas. I’m also really looking forward to seeing the different theatres. I know that around the country there are some stunning and historic buildings everywhere. I’ve done the same job for 36 years so to have a chance to go and enjoy myself touring the country is so exciting for me.

Laurie: It’s a real joy getting the chance to work with Adam again, so performing with him every night is definitely a highlight. I feel very lucky to be on the stage again because the buzz of live theatre and that relationship that exists between actor and audience is really thrilling. I also love the fact that every show is always a little bit different.

What are your plans once the tour ends?
Adam: I’m going to help a friend out who has a pop up restaurant at Pub in the Park during the summer if I’ve not got any proper work on.

Laurie: I’m really looking forward to spending some more time with my daughter and there’s also another project that I might be involved in if all goes to plan, so I’m really excited about that. I also might finally take a holiday!

Looking Good Dead is at the Connaught Theatre from Monday 4 April at 7:30pm. Book Tickets now at wtm.uk/events/peter-james-looking-good-dead or call the Box Office on 01903 206206.

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