THE joyful sounds of theatre lovers returning to their favourite place was soon replaced by complete and utter silence during a thrilling evening of suspense, intrigue and the occasional jump out of your seat moment.

Live theatre is back in Southampton as a socially distanced audience of nearly 700 enjoyed the opening night of the first major tour Mayflower Theatre has seen in 15 months.

Bar some socially distanced screenings of shows at the end of last summer and a pantomime which only lasted four performances before being hit by the Covid curse, the city's beloved venue has been dark since March 2020.

ALSO READ: Mayflower Theatre to reopen after 15 month closure

Theatre-goers obediently scanned their tickets, checked in to the venue, had their temperatures checked and sat in their bubbles.

But even face coverings couldn't mask the gasps and giggles we've come to expect from a stage adaptation of a Peter James novel. The best-selling author himself also seemed to be enjoying himself in the stalls. 

Looking Good Dead saw Eastenders stalwart Adam Woodyatt return to the stage and he couldn't hide his glee, jumping up and down and fist-pumping the air at the curtain call.

Daily Echo:

Woodyatt and his fellow soap star Gaynor Faye (Coronation Street, Emmerdale) made the perfect warring middle class couple who got mixed up in a rather murky world.

With the Bryce family business going under and secrets of the past resurfacing, Tom (Woodyatt) inadvertently becomes a witness to a vicious murder.

Reporting the crime to the police has disastrous consequences, placing him and his family in grave danger.

An ingenious set allowed the audience to see inside the family home, the police station and a torture chamber with one minimal move.

There were twists and turns aplenty and we were kept on the edge of our seats right until the chilling final moments of the play.

What a way for audiences to emerge from a long pandemic hibernation.

  • Peter James' Looking Good Dead runs until Saturday. Tickets: 023 8071 1811 or