Former Eastenders favourites are now Looking Good Dead

Former Eastenders favourites are now Looking Good Dead

Just hours after picking up an abandoned USB stick on a train, Tom Bryce inadvertently becomes a witness to a vicious murder.

Reporting the crime to the police has disastrous consequences, thrusting this ordinary suburban household into chaos.

When Detective Superintendent Roy Grace becomes involved, he has his own demons to contend with, while he tries to crack the case in time to save the Bryce family’s lives.

Looking Good Dead, Peter James, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Based on the book by the multi-million number 1 best-selling author Peter James, the thrilling Roy Grace series has been transformed into a gripping on stage performance.

There are twists and turns aplenty and chilling scenes, but these are carefully off-set with well-balanced humour throughout to break some of the tension. – You couldn’t hear a pin drop for two hours!

The Bryce family are having problems. Father Tom (Adam Woodyatt) has over-extended his business to the point of bankruptcy. Stress pushes wife Kellie (Laurie Brett) into compulsively drinking, cleaning and spending and teenage son Max (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) plots to emulate his alienated half-brother and escape the family home as soon as possible.

If you’re an avid Eastenders fan, such as I, it can take a few minutes to get past the reunion of the former soap favourites Woodyatt and Brett (a.k.a Ian and Jane Beale) for what are altogether very different roles as the perfect warring middle class couple who get mixed up in a rather murky world. One can’t help but listen out for the ‘duff duffs’ at final curtain! (Only ‘Enders fan will get this.)

Looking Good Dead, Peter James, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

But their on-stage chemistry is one of the strengths of this production which is way darker than Walford could ever get. But the chilling scenes are carefully off-set with well-balanced humour throughout.

All these plus points are – just about – enough to help us come to terms with the gaping holes in the plot. That said, I didn’t see the main twist coming. But then I’m always the last one to know whodunnit in our house. Amateur sleuths with go home satisfied I’m sure.

All in all, definitely gripping immersive theatre worthy of your ticket price.

Looking Good Dead runs at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Saturday (12th March.) Tickets are available by phoning the Box Office on 024 7655 3055 (phone lines open 10:30am – 2pm, Mon – Sat), or visiting where tickets are even cheaper.

Childish entertainment – for all ages! (Review)

Childish entertainment – for all ages! (Review)

Belly laughs are very much in short supply these days. . .so a visit to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre this week should definitely be on your calendar.

Mischief and mayhem are abound in the form of Groan Ups, a farcical story that follows an unruly classroom of six-year-olds as they journey through teenage life and into adulthood.

Groan Ups, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, review
Matt Cavendish (Simon), Lauren Samuels (Katie), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer), Daniel Abbott (Archie) & Yolanda Ovide (Moon). Photo credit Pamela Raith.

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields and directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward, Groan Ups is delighting local audiences after premiering in the West End in 2019 and follows sell-out runs of the company’s The Play That Goes Wrong, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery and Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

There is a wealth of hysterical material so easy to relate to for everyone who is a child, has children of their own or used to be a child!! Something for everyone then!

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Groan Ups, review
Yolanda Ovide (Moon) & Lauren Samuels (Katie). Photo credit Pamela Raith.

From playground spats to teenage crushes and dead hamsters (yes multiple!), there’s no let up to the anarchy and angst. But, like all true farces, the frenetic atmosphere builds throughout the show, but it’s not without its poignant scenes and, beneath it all, this is a comedy that asks real questions of us. – Do we choose who we become? Is the story of our lives already written? Do we ever really grow up? This is certainly a fun way to explore the answers.

The show’s co-writer Henry Lewis puts it best: “Groan Ups is about how life becomes more complex, how much (and sometimes how little!) things change over time, and about how events in our youth can change our lives forever. But at its heart, Groan Ups is a joyful comedy, finding its fun in the madness of childhood, the agonies of adolescence and all the ridiculous things we do when we all finally pretend to be adults.”

The small but perfectly formed cast of Groan UpsDaniel Abbott (Archie), Jamie Birkett (Chemise, Miss Murray), Matt Cavendish (Simon), Killian Macardle (Paul, Mr White), Yolanda Ovide (Moon), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer), and Lauren Samuels (Katie), pull off perfectly timed comedy throughout.

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Groan Ups, review
Daniel Abbott (Archie), Dharmesh Patel (Spencer) & Matt Cavendish (Simon). Photo credit Pamela Raith.

And the script’s attention to detail evokes childhood memories we have long buried. But as a mum of teenagers, it’s the middle segment that resonated most of all and I found myself laughing and maniacally nodding throughout! Teens themselves couldn’t fail to also find it funny however. They just may not admit it!

Groan Ups plays at The Belgrade Theatre until Saturday (March 5th). Tickets are available by phoning the Box Office on 024 7655 3055 (phone lines open 10:30am – 2pm, Mon – Sat), or visiting where tickets are even cheaper.

Casual sophistication at The Belgrade Café and Bar

Casual sophistication at The Belgrade Café and Bar


Nineteen58 cafe bar, Coventry, Belgrade Theatre

Last April The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry unveiled its new-look café bar.

Certainly where I’m concerned, this has been one of the city’s best kept secrets – and I do wonder how many others have also missed out. . .

Belgrade Café and the upstairs Nineteen58 bar is now the perfect complement to the city’s popular live arts venue and fast becoming a destination in its own right.



Previously occupied shops on Corporation Street have been taken over as part of this £5.5m redevelopment project which now offers both quality and quantity in hospitality terms.

Designed by Lazzeri Creative Interiors and inspired by the Theatre’s origins, the décor, by Corstorphine + Wright Architects, is decorated with vintage show posters and artwork from across the decades – a stylish and comfortable space from which to watch the world go by.

A shout out too to the friendly café team which plays a big part in creating such a convivial experience here.

Nineteen58 cafe bar, Coventry, Belgrade Theatre
Nineteen58 cafe bar, Coventry, Belgrade Theatre

The Menu, which is available from 11.30am-5pm every day, offers a good range of hot and cold dishes, from a selection of sandwiches, toasties, wraps and paninis through to jacket potatoes, soup and, for the more health conscious, Salad Bowls.

But be sure to also keep an eye on their Specials Board. The Hot Dishes of the Day – Cottage Pie and Vegetable Casserole went day a treat on a chilly February day for my friend and I.

If you missed breakfast, there’s also the option to grab some brunch. Choose from bacon or sausage sandwiches, smashed avocado on toast, filled croissants, teacake or granola.


Light bites can be purchased in the form of hot and cold snacks – including an irresistible range of sweet treats- and everything fairly competitively priced for the area.

I also noted what seemed to me like a wider than average range of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu – unlike, it has to be said, many other establishments I have frequented with veggie companions.

Whiling away, as we did, three hours on the upper floor of this charming, but sophisticated, café bar is easily done. And I’ll definitely be back soon to while away a few more.


Nineteen58 Belgrade Cafe

If they had a suggestion box I would be dropping in a polite note about extending opening hours to encourage the pre-theatre crowd. But, in the meantime, I’d say it was definitely worth a trip at any time of day. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, do try and check it out. You’ll soon be shouting encore.

You can check out all the shows coming up at The Belgrade Theatre here

Belgrade Theatre to reopen its doors on May 17th

Belgrade Theatre to reopen its doors on May 17th

The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – the UK City of Culture for 2021 – is to reopen its doors to the public on 17th May – the first day that the government’s roadmap allows – with socially distanced audiences able to enjoy Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw in John Godber’s April in Paris, which kicks off its UK tour at the Belgrade.

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Those first audience members through the doors will also be able to enjoy the brand-new upstairs Café Bar Nineteen58 and newly refurbished downstairs Belgrade Café which has been created in the building as part of the £5.5m 2020 Redevelopment Project for the theatre; as well as the enhanced food and beverage offering, this has provided new spaces for audiences, visitors and additional capacity for workshops and community groups.

Prior to this, from 12th April, The Belgrade Café will be offering a full range of locally sourced food and drink for patrons to takeaway and enjoy on tables outside the theatre on Belgrade Square. The refurbishment was inspired by and named after the theatre’s founding year and is decorated with vintage show posters and artwork from across the decades.

Above and right: The new-look cafe (Artist’s impression by Corstorphine + Wright Architects)

Coventry, Belgrade Theatre, cafeThe Belgrade is Coventry’s largest professional theatre, producing and presenting a diverse range of shows, events and ground-breaking community and education initiatives. In its landmark building, across the region, the UK and online, it uses theatre to entertain, inspire, share the city’s stories, uncover hidden histories, and unleash the creativity of diverse communities.

Joanna Reid, Executive Director of the Belgrade, said, “The whole team can’t wait to reopen on 17 May and to welcome shows and audiences back into our two auditoria as soon as possible.  We are delighted that we are launching a tour of APRIL IN PARIS on Monday 17 May and are continuing to work to secure more shows during May to August. We’re excited that we’ve been able to complete our 2020 Redevelopment in time for City of Culture despite the challenges posed by both the pandemic and Brexit.  We hope to see you back at the Belgrade soon!

Following April in Paris, the Belgrade continues to book in performances at short notice and audiences will be able to enjoy an eclectic mix of music, theatre and comedy  over the summer months The theatre’s digital offerings also continue: Jabala and the Jinn, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Private Peaceful and the MT Festival UK will stream at various times between the end of March and the beginning of June.

The UK Asian Film Festival will also be hosted at the venue, with socially distanced audiences watching five film premieres in the Belgrade’s B2 auditorium, including the world premiere of Beatles and India. These films have been selected by five Coventry locals, after training in film curation. The UK Asian Film Festival celebrates the art of storytelling extending from ancient oral traditions to tales told in today’s digital age, giving wings to South Asian roots since 1997. This year’s programming theme is Ray of Hope to mark the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray. The film choices reflect the shift in power that bring hope to the lives of the protagonists. Further details to be announced.

An autumn season of non-socially distanced work from 1 September will be announced on 1st June.

A key partner of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, the Belgrade Theatre’s 2021 programme is being delivered by three diverse artists under the role of Co-Artistic Directors alongside members of the local community.  Corey Campbell, Balisha Karra and Justine Themen are developing a new vision and way of working for a 21st Century Theatre, bringing with them a unique perspective that celebrates the City’s diversity and drives positive change.

As well as directing the City of Culture opening event, Coventry Moves, Justine Themen has commissioned a brand-new digital version of Like There’s No Tomorrow (Weds 19 May – Sun 13 June 2021), one of the first National Theatre Connections plays to be specifically commissioned for and created by young people. Originally devised by Belgrade Youth Theatre in March 2020, in 2021 it will amplify the voices of Coventry’s young people and their views on climate change, across the country. The Belgrade will also be hosting the region’s NT Connections Festival this summer, showcasing work by local youth theatres across the West Midlands.

The new Roundabout pop-up theatre

Another cornerstone of the City of Culture programme, The Belgrade will co-present with Paines Plough, a festival of new world-class plays and community-led activities in the world’s first plug-in, pop-up and play theatre Roundabout (Monday 26 July – Sunday 8 August 2021). Balisha Karra will direct Coventry based playwright Frankie Meredith’s May Queen, and the other plays that will be played in repertory throughout the festival are Hungry by Chris Bush, Really Big and Really Loud by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, Black Love by Chinonyerem Odimba, with music by Ben and Max Ringham.

Belgrade Theatre, Seaview, Coventry
A scene from Seaview

Filming has also begun on SeaView, an original digital series developed by Strictly Arts Theatre Company and Belgrade Film and Digital Ltd using theatre techniques, conceived before Covid-19 took the world of theatre online, and directed by Corey Campbell. Inspired by a true story, and lived experiences, SeaView is a supernatural drama centred on urban, working class communities in the Midlands. It follows the story of Steven, a high-flying university student who appears to have a bright future ahead of him… Release dates and further information to be announced shortly.

Whilst – as with so many theatres across the country during 2020– The Belgrade wasn’t able to present live work on stage during much of the year, the whole team worked hard to keep engaging with local audiences and communities. The theatre rapidly adapted to making its offerings digital, including taking their annual pantomime online – Jack and the Beanstalk was watched by 55,600 people in the UK and in 25 countries across the world. The team behind the theatre’s renowned participation programme Click Spring also continued to offer workshops, Summer School and Acting Classes over Zoom. They also kept engaging with audiences on social media, including Facebook pub quizzes and online play-reading groups, and created podcasts, education packs and Spotify musical theatre playlists.

Councillor David Welsh, from Coventry City Council, said, ““There has been so much work happening throughout the Covid outbreak to improve facilities at the Belgrade Theatre and I am really pleased that they can now take the first tentative steps by announcing what future productions they will be able to host. I want to thank all those involved for the hard work they have put into getting the Belgrade Theatre ready, and I wish the theatre every success.”

Makers to ‘pop up’ at theatre’s outdoor market

Makers to ‘pop up’ at theatre’s outdoor market

ALL things bright and beautiful are arriving in Coventry with the Belgrade Theatre’s first Outdoor Makers’ Market from 11am-4pm on Saturday 29 August.

Organised by Craft On, the Belgrade’s resident needlecraft for wellbeing group, the event will see 16 local artists and makers assemble to sell their wares outside the theatre in Belgrade Square.

Pop-up craft shop, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

A wide range of handmade items will be available to browse and purchase, including greetings cards, wall plaques, paintings, jewellery, dolls, dreamcatchers, felt and fused glass ornaments, knitted baby clothes and accessories, and more.

The event is child-friendly and free to attend. Throughout the day, the Belgrade café bar will also be open and serving a selection of snacks and drinks which you can enjoy either outdoors or inside the theatre’s spacious foyers.

A wet-weather contingency plan has also been putting place, allowing the market to take place inside the building while maintaining social distancing, should it be unable to go ahead outside as planned.

Pop-up craft shop, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Craft On group leader Niki Doughty Lee, who is managing bookings for the pop-up shops as well as the Makers’ Market, said: “We’re grateful to the Belgrade Theatre for all they’ve done to accommodate our weekly craft sessions and to support and promote our work, so we’re delighted to be able to help them in return as COVID restrictions start to lift. We hope events like this will send a clear message that the theatre is now open and accessible to the community, even if shows are still unable to go ahead.

“I set up Craft On with the aim of reducing isolation and promoting mental wellbeing in Coventry – something which has never been more important than it is now that we are beginning to emerge from lockdown. Theatres like the Belgrade play a vital role in holding the community together, so we want to do everything we can to help keep them going through this difficult period and ensure their work can continue in the future.”

The Outdoor Makers’ Market will take place in Belgrade Square from 11am-4pm on Saturday 29 August. For any enquiries, email