How do you write a review for a show where the performance doesn’t have a script and the jokes have to be made up on the spot? Where neither the cast, nor the audience knows what is going to happen from one second to the next. Well, as a member of the audience, I simply have to go along with what the actors, and the crowd for that matter, come up with. For, as Detective Willy Solvit (Peter Baker) informs us at the start of this 90-minute Murder Mystery: “What you are about to see, has not been seen before and will never be seen again.”
Murder, She Didn’t Write is a true delight of an evening. It is a murderous romp where every key element of the murder in question, including the location and murder weapon as well as the victim and murderer themselves, is provided by the audience. This conjures up suggestions ranging from front page news stories on Brexit and Trump’s plan for a border wall that garner particularly loud noises of appreciation…or rather disapproval, to Weight Watchers meetings and a skiing holiday.
The idea of channelling every random suggestion through an audience member who acts as Detective Jerkins, is a stroke of genius. Jerkins acts as a filter which helps the actors preserve the structure of a crime story and keeps the pace of the story moving forward.
Degrees of Error are clearly a very tight knit group of performers. Every member of the cast creates a fully fleshed out character, each with their own quirks, motives and questionable accents – I’m looking at you Chef Gordon Blue (John Lomas). Each actor brings their own sense of humour to the stage and, although they sometimes stumble into each other’s thoughts, everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. The true charm of the play, however, is the little imperfections. The suitcase falling over and forgotten props being quickly thrown backstage mixed with quick-witted jokes, adds an endearing human touch to the play. A degree of error should I say.
Lighting (Alex Hoyle) and set are simple, but used effectively. When the conversation is dragging and the actors have run out of steam, the stage falls dark, signalling for the cast to leave and prepare for a new scene.
The main events play out using foldable screens, potted plants and chairs to create a new scene. Detective Solvit is seated at a small desk which features, most notably, a framed picture of Agatha Christie.
All characters are come to life Cluedo figures and are dressed in the appropriate colours. This time around, the play features Gerald Green (Andy Kelly), Marjorie Green, Blue, Irmtrud Gold (Rachael Lane) and Scarlet Scarlett (Caitlin Campbell).
During the performance, I do feel as though certain important plot points are dropped or forgotten about. However, they are eventually picked back up to round off the mystery and solve the murder. In conclusion, Murder, She Didn’t Write is a fantastic play to go see if you need cheering up on a rainy day or are already in a giggly mood and want to laugh some more. I’m still chuckling about some of the best lines (“I fell out with the hard food delivery man”, is a masterpiece). So, if you want to swap knowing looks with your friends and say, “You had to have been there”, Murder She Didn’t Write is the mystery for you.
Murder, She Didn’t Write played at the Leicester Square Theatre on 13 January 2019 and is currently on tour throughout the UK. For more information and tickets, visit the Degrees of Error website.