Wish You Were Dead follows on from a succession of five successful stage plays and the critically acclaimed primetime ITV series Grace, which are all based on the bestselling novels by crime author Peter James. This will be the sixth adaptation of James’s novels to arrive on the stage – making it the most successful crime thriller stage franchise since Agatha Christie’s works were first adapted.
There but for the Grace
The Wish You Were Dead stage production is tensely plotted yet interspersed with splashes of humour and follows DSI Roy Grace and Cleo Morey as they take a long-awaited holiday together. They are both hoping for a few days respite from the relentlessly grim worlds of homicide and pathology but their hoped-for escape takes a darker turn as the past comes back to haunt them.
Wish You Were Dead is produced by Tony Award winner Joshua Andrews together with James himself, and adapted by award-winning writer Shaun McKenna, who brought James’s five previous plays to the stage. This production will also bring together the creative team from Looking Good Dead, with Jonathan O’Boyle on directing duties, lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Max Pappenheim, and design by Michael Holt.
The latest production follows a series of successful stage adaptations including: The Perfect Murder starring Les Dennis and Claire Goose in 2014; Dead Simple starring Tina Hobley in 2015; Not Dead Enough starring Shane Richie and Laura Whitmore in 2017; The House on Cold Hill starring Joe McFadden and Rita Simons in 2019; and last year’s Looking Good Dead starring Adam Woodyatt and Gaynor Faye.
‘I do miss Yorkshire’
Ahead of the thriller coming to Yorkshire I spoke to actor George Rainsford who plays DSI Roy Grace.
What is Wish You Were Dead about, it sounds like a really good thriller?
“When detective superintendent Roy Grace, who I play, and Cleo Morey take their first holiday together, Cleo hopes that she will finally get Grace to herself for a few days and away from his crime-solving exploits. But their dream escape turns out to be the holiday from hell as the play gets darker as the story evolves.
“I think it is a great script as there is a lot of comedy in there even though the play is a thriller.”
After all your roles in Casualty and Call The Midwife, what has it been like returning to the theatre?
“It has been brilliant as my first love is playing on stage in a theatre. The rest of the cast have been very good to me, there is a real camaraderie between us all.”
Are you excited about returning to Yorkshire?
“Yes I am as I have never performed at Leeds Grand, though I have been in a play at Leeds Playhouse. My sister lives in Leeds so I will be staying with her when the thriller comes to the Grand.
“I have good memories too of going to see Sooty at the Alhambra in Bradford, as I recall it is one of the most beautiful theatres in the country.”
Keeping you guessing
Whereabouts were you born in Yorkshire?
“I am originally from Holmfirth, the town is probably better known for the location of Last of the Summer Wine and of course the Picturedrome music venue which gets a lot of top music acts playing there.
“I live down south now but I do miss Yorkshire, especially the people and the countryside.”
How do you relax when not working?
“I like to go running though I do worry about what it might do to my knees.”
What would you say to someone to encourage them to come and see Wish You Were Dead?
“The play is a great whodunnit and will have you guessing throughout the evening. This is a very accessible play that will appeal to people who perhaps do not go to the theatre often. Over the course of two hours you will laugh and be sitting on the edge of your seat experiencing a play performed with some good actors.”
Leeds Grand Theatre 3 – 6 May
Sheffield Lyceum 27 June – 1 July