Murder Village: An Improvised Whodunnit

Enter a world of mystery and intrigue where the classic tales of Agatha Christie come to life in unexpected ways. This thrilling new show is back by popular demand and promises to keep you on the edge of your seat with all new improvised tales of murder and mayhem in response to audience cues.

Each performance is a unique puzzle crafted live before your eyes. It’s up to you to piece together the clues and guess the murderer before the amateur sleuth does. With an ever-changing storyline and an unpredictable cast of characters, this show will keep you guessing until the end.

So, do you want to visit the quaint little post-war English town called Murder Village? It’s open to you and 75 other tourists for an hour every night except Mondays for the next four weeks until April 21 for the duration of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Will someone die? Will they have been… um… murdered? With a candlestick or a rope? Will they have been at the centre of an intriguing conflict involving several suspects who all have a motive? Will the detective be assisted by an amateur sleuth who solves the mystery despite the red herring?

I would say probably not a candlestick or a rope (sorry, Cluedo fans) because you and the 75 other tourists will actually get to suggest the weapon in question, and I’m sure you are all much more imaginative than that. Take your phone because if you scan the QR code provided, you can also virtually vote on who the victim and the murderer will be (you have a choice of four) and can suggest the nature of the village event (is it always a fundraiser?) preceding the murder, as well as the clue that the case rests upon.

So, let me tell you a bit about my excursion to the village on opening night. As I climbed the many stairs and entered deeper and higher into the iconic venue, which is the Butterfly Club, for the first time, I found myself waiting alongside the other tourists in a dimly lit narrow lounge filled with knick-knacks, portraits, small flickering TV, mirror – the quirky otherness was the perfect transition from reality to the escapism that is Murder Village. The narrow theatre worked perfectly, with tiers that ensured there were no bad views.

Tonight’s host was Miss Artemis Martin (Louise Fitzhardinge), our shrewd whodunnit novelist (Agatha?) and our MC/narrator/unimaginative police officer was Detective Inspector Owen Gullet (David Massingham). We were introduced to Lady Clarissa Spalding (Candice D’Arcy), an excessively wealthy widow and best friend of Marion Kind (Amanda Buckley), a boisterous wartime entertainer.

Eddy (not Teddy) Brewster (Rik Brown), an Earl of Wooster, has bought the rights to Marion’s songs so that only he will profit whenever she performs, leaving her destitute. His respectable butler, Eames Chair (Rhys Auteri), has tarred feathered himself and picked up broken glass with his bare hands to serve his master. Eddy dies on a serving platter with a sharp edge that accidentally, on purpose, severs his carotid in a hilarious death scene. True to the genre, all three suspects are hiding something, but Artemis’s intellect uncovers Lady Clarissa as the murderer, and we are privy to her confession enacted as a flashback.

The population of Murder Village was 84, but now that Eddy is dead and Lady Clarissa is put away, there are now 82 possible people left to entertain you when you visit. So, the plot will be completely different based on your input. If you are like me, you will be so carried away by the fun energy of the performances you’ll have to remind yourself that the actors didn’t know the details of the plot beforehand – it all just unfolds before them, as it does for us. Musician Terrence Mudwater Junior (Jaron Why) improvised the background music on the keyboard (piano/strings sound). This underscored the action so well without drawing undue attention to itself that I had to remind myself someone was playing.

So, enjoy your excursion to Murder Village! I know I did.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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