#Tweetingit – 5* – 140 characters is simply not enough to express how amazing this production is. Just go!!
I don’t need to tell you, I am a huge fan of immersive theatre. I know some people aren’t – they don’t want to work for their entertainment. How to Solve a Problem Like Murder is like no other immersive theatre that I have seen; I think it would be pretty tough to find someone who didn’t like this production for one reason or another.
As we make our way through the pub to the “theatre space” we are given an envelope containing a mask, a pen and various bits of paper. We are then greeted by an extremely hyperactive man dressed in dungarees, desperate to show off his toy police car. We are directed into the busy Paradise Bar. The venue is really impressive; there are bird cages and trinkets adorning the walls, massive arm chairs and random statues in corners. Masked dancers and audience members fill the room. Sultry jazz fills the room. We mill around, get drinks, and look through the envelope we have been given; a page of photos with people’s names – we seek out where they are in the room, a “notes” page and two slips of paper – “ I think …………….. is the murderer” and “ I think ……………….was murdered.”
The person coming with me asked, worriedly, would there be any audience participation. I explained, not in the way we all understand it – we would not be dragged up on stage to join in, but as the evening unfolded, it was clear that if you are not willing to participate in this show, you will seriously miss out. You have to follow the action, gather evidence and choose your path – almost like those story books we had when we were children – turn to page 35 to move to the dining room and 74 for the kitchen.
The lights go out, gun shots are fired, a voice comes over the speakers giving us the rules of the evening. The lights come back up and we are plunged into the events of the previous day. The cast except for our storytelling guides, can no longer see us. They scatter to different areas of the bar (there are four rooms) and we have to choose who to watch, what the important information is and how to go about gathering clues and coming to conclusions.
Our guides make sure we don’t miss too much. If people aren’t following a specific part of the action, they will pull you away, send you in the right direction (and also block you when you’re going the wrong way too) and, if you ask them the right questions at the right time, you may even get a clue.
The audience are all masked – creating a barrier between the actors and audience, ensuring you don’t feel quite as bad about getting in their person space, rifling through their stuff, following them around or talking about them when they’re right beside you. Be prepared to break social conventions and rules during this show, or it is unlikely you will figure out who the killer is.
The cast were all excellent; there are seven potential suspects and two witty storytellers. I have no idea how, but they managed to completely ignore us through the entire show. No one made eye contact with me, and when I was very much in their personal space (for good reason, not just because), they didn’t move, react or seem at all uncomfortable. They were also extremely talented dancers and that is the only thing I feels I missed out on seeing much of. Throughout the evening, the dancers would go to “practise” a dance number. They are quite incredible dancers and my friend, of a number of occasions, scurried out from the main bar area to tell me what I had missed. I would almost like to go again to sit and watch the dancers as well as see the other sections of the action that I missed. Actually, it would also be interesting to go again purely to watch the audience. Having been to a number of immersive events, I was less concerned about “overstepping” what is seen as acceptable behaviour – sidling up to someone when they were whispering under their breath so I could hear what they were saying or picking up and looking through things which, if I found them in a bar generally, I wouldn’t dream of touching. To see how the audience react when I am not one of them, would be quite fun to watch.
I cannot tell you any of the story – it would spoil the evening but I am pleased to say that I got some elements of the mystery right. The only way to find out more is to go!
I cannot think of a single way that this production could have been better and if you do not go to this show, you are certainly missing out.
Every Thursday until April 28th
Director : Christie Lee Manning
Cast: Lee Peter Hedges, Joe Foyster, Christie Lee Manning, Issac Money, Bex Slater, Callum Tempest, Anna Montgomery, Luke Cassar and Tashi Bullman