With shows like Midsomer Murders, Death in Paradise, Endeavour, and Vera still proving as popular as ever on television, it’s no wonder that murder mystery seemed to be a popular choice at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. After all, everyone loves a mystery, a puzzle, the question of who done it, but with A Highly Suspect Murder: Murder at the Movies, this wasn’t your average sit back and enjoy theatre production. No, here the audience themselves become the detective and you are thrown into the heart of the action.
There’s been a murder, with a famous film studio owner found dead in a locked room. But who did it, and how? Leading lady Greta Garbage, ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ actor Dean Jelly, director Alfred Cockhitch, and writer Turner Paige are all suspects, or was it the missing film extra? The case has to be solved before anyone else becomes a victim.
I walked into this production expecting some level of interactivity going on, maybe like watch a bit of story unfold then it pauses to ask the audience their thoughts on the mystery, but no, this is much more than that, and it’s wonderful. In small groups, you are instead presented with an entire evidence pack; witness statements, secret notes, crime scene information, all a series of puzzles that you are challenged to solve within the hour-long running time. There’s anagrams and codes to crack, and throughout it all the cast add in new information, take suggestions, and mingle with the audience to offer hints and insights. This is more than interactive, it’s immersive, it’s a group effort between audience and cast.
In this combination of theatrical production and escape room puzzle, you have to marvel about the amount of planning goes into creating something this detailed and intricate. To be able to create a murder mystery that unfolds as the audience are throwing all sorts of possible solutions at it requires brilliant intelligence and wonderful teamwork. The four cast members bounce off each other with both the witty, clever writing and the equally clever improvisation, able to take suggestions from the audience and weave them into the story with an apparent ease.
A Highly Suspect Murder: Murder at the Movies is interactive theatre at its cleverest, it is a puzzle that will leave the audience guessing until the final moments, scribbling down notes, trying to work out devilish alphabet puzzles and ultimately trying to work out who did it.