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A Killer Party is an online musical unlike any murder mystery you have ever seen. Led by a stellar cast of comedic and musical stars it is delivered as an episodic series of nine parts, parodying all the typical murder mystery cliches alongside the stereotypes of theatre folk.
Artistic Director Varthur McArthur brings together a cast of theatricals for his latest and greatest idea — a murder mystery play. As the cast gather in McArthur’s home for a read-through of the show, it becomes clear that McArthur isn’t the only one with murder on his mind, and he is soon found face down in his soup, dead. Traffic Officer (and wannabe detective) Justine Case swiftly arrives to gather the facts, placing each of the guests in self-isolation pending her musical questioning.
Created during lockdown, the scenes have been filmed in the performer’s homes, using minimal greenscreen and rather focusing on finding spaces that can be roughly matched with each other to give the illusion that they are in the same room. Whilst this is done exceptionally well for the most part, there are times when things don’t quite fit — this is where the cheesy nature of the show takes over.
All very tongue in cheek, these haphazard moments are pointed out by characters. In one scene Justine Case mentions that all the rooms look the same and you realise that the actress has just been redressing the same bookshelf to look like different rooms. In another scene, Cameron Mitchelljohn passes a crostini through the camera to Case, where it becomes a pringle covered in mayonnaise, swallowed down with poorly hidden revulsion. This slightly cheap quality is an endearing element of the show and one of its main selling points.
A set model of the house, with miniatures of the cast, is used with stop motion animation to show where in the house the action is moving to, much like a Cluedo board. It’s a very simple idea, but one that adds another level to the episodes and brings a more rounded professional production.
The music and lyrics, by Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen respectively, are a collection of exceptionally well written and diverse numbers that rival any West End musical, with a hilarious comedic edge. From the opening number ‘A Killer Party’ it is clear that the restrictions of online performance do not apply here, the cast dazzling in a showstopping ensemble piece that sounds as if it were recorded and performed live in my living room. In a cabaret style, each song is wholly different, blending musical and pop music styles, with plenty of music video parodies too.
The book, by Rachel Axler and Kait Kerrigan, is completely immersive, keeping you guessing at every turn. From the jealous wife to the neglected chorus boy, and family secrets to a torrid love affair — there is so much to sink your teeth into. Tying it all together are some well-scripted topical references that we all know from the Year-Of-The-Lockdown, such as Tiktok, Zoom, and ASMR, all delivered in the cheesiest of fashions.
The incredible cast, directed by Benji Sperring, complement the musical with over-the-top theatrical performances, totally in keeping with the overall aesthetic, and funny as hell. Standout cast members include Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Rachel Tucker, and Amara Okereke — who’s performance of ‘Songus Interuptus’ is a masterclass in dexterity. A Killer Party is a wonderfully original and feel-good musical comedy, filled with memorable songs and brilliant creative choices from start to finish. Totally silly, totally catchy, totally riveting.
A Killer Party is available to stream until 30 May 2021. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.stream.theatre