THEATRE is back. The heart almost skips at beat at the prospect of slumping into a velour-covered chair, slipping a square of Cadbury’s into the mouth and surrendering to a sheer entertainment spectacle.

Oh, the joy of escaping the dark drama of television news and tales of duplicity, lies, betrayal and revenge. But hang on – that’s exactly what’s on offer at the Theatre Royal this week when it opens with the staging of Peter James’ Looking Good Dead.

The premise is even more intriguing than wondering what Dom will do to shaft Boris next. Tom Bryce, (Adam Woodyatt from Eastenders) is a businessman whose business looks to be as secure as Boris’s job.

But his real problems begin when he discovers a USB stick left behind on a train by a fellow passenger and attempts to find out who the owner is. In opening the device, he has opened Pandora’s Box, and Pandora does her level best to make life becomes a misery for Tom and his family.

The memory stick reveals a real-life murder. And of course, Peter James’ favourite detective Roy Grace is called into action to solve the mystery. This, as you would expect, isn’t easy at all because the clues are ever-changing. On this occasion Peter’s James’ supercop seems to be out of his depth, (think Nadine Dorries with an M&S suit and pair of brown brogues) lacking direction, reliant upon others to correct the gaffs.

It’s a play full of resonance. As the fear of retribution builds upon Bryce and his family, we realise how fragile his world was to begin with. The lead character is emblematic of a Covid-impacted world, forced inward, having to cope with a myriad of problems.

This is of course a chance to see Woodyatt reveal his acting skills to a live audience, alongside former Eastenders partner, Laurie Brett, who plays his wife, Kellie.

Brett has the chance to shine, her character being a recovering alcoholic, compulsive cleaner and a credit card addict. She’s something of a Mrs Robinson – The Graduate – character, a woman who could have been a contender, but finds herself surrendering to drab convention and sense of self.

“It’s a great role,” says Hamilton-born Brett, “and I get to work with Adam again. We worked on Eastenders for about 14 years, on and off, and we’re great friends and we have a great working chemistry.

“I remember on what must have been about my eighth audition for Eastenders, and Adam popped out from a piece of set, and he’d been watching me the whole time, showing real interest and concern, and he helped me find my way round this massive set. He was lovely. “

She adds; “Because of other filming commitments I haven’t had as much rehearsal time as I would have liked, but we will make it work. And the storyline is really dramatic.”

Just like watching the news on telly. But with better acting.

Looking Good Dead, Tuesday until Saturday, the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.