Sat, 20 April, 2024

Bonner’s play finally gets its premiere

Posted: April 8th, 2022

… So I wrote ‘Dead Lies’ – quickly, before he changed his mind! He seemed to like it. Things moved forward at pace. Casting began, venues were booked, then our somewhat celebrated leading man dropped out. And the producer dropped the play. Ouch!

I put ‘Dead Lies’ in a drawer and sulked for over a decade. Until four years ago, at a party, I met a man who asked me if I had ever written a play, because a production company he was involved with were looking for a theatrical thriller. Funny you should ask, I said.

That didn’t work out either. Then, on a Covent Garden street corner, I bumped into a wonderful man named Lee Waddingham, who also wanted to know if I had ever written a thriller for the theatre. Funny you should ask, I said again.

It turned out that Lee, whom I knew from some years previously when he had produced my partner Amanda Barrie in pantomime, was second in command at Red Entertainment, an exciting young production company looking to expand into new territory. He took me straight to the Red office and introduced me to his boss, Matt Brinkler.

To my joy they both loved the script. And, together with director Joe Harmston, for many years boss of the Agatha Christie Theatrical Company and another man I had contrived to be picked up by along the way, we proceeded to plan a national tour to begin in January 2021.

Venues had been booked and casting was about to begin when COVID hit. Just before the first lockdown in March 2020, that tour was cancelled. However, plans for another tour in September 2021 were immediately made. After all, COVID was sure to be well over by then, wasn’t it?

Well, it wasn’t, of course. Days before rehearsals were due to start, Matt phoned to say that he had decided he must again postpone ‘Dead Lies’.

The same tough decision was being made by producers all over the country, and   was the right and only one. However, I will never forget that moment. My heart sank more or less literally into my boots. I had my wellies on, as I was digging beetroot in my vegetable garden at the time. Matt, usually the coolest of customers, seemed almost as distressed as I was, and later came up with the term ‘Beetroot Day’, which we continue to utter in hushed tones.

Now, here we go again. It seems as certain as anything can be in this crazy world that, on April 14, 2022, Dead Lies will begin an 11-week national tour with a premiere at the Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple – the epi-centre of Thorpe’s old constituency, and the place where, as a North Devon schoolgirl, I watched my very first stage play.

However, as a precaution, I shall not be planting any beetroot this year.

For tickets and more information visit

Remaining UK tour dates (correct as at May 3, 2022):

10–12 May: Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield
17–21 May: Blackpool Grand
24–29 May: Lichfield Garrick Theatre
07–11 June: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
14–18 June: Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
27–30 June: Coventry Belgrade



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