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Winter 2016

Murder Mystery Review: ‘A Blow to the Head’


Murder Mysteries for this critic are a challenge having attended a few and nearly been made part of one for my caustic comments! The hall at Humphrey Perkins on Saturday 8th Oct was packed with many of the audience dressed in the style of the 1980s or as school-girls from Saint Trinians. Perhaps that’s why so many older men were there!

The hall being so large your reviewer was wary of the ability of the group to carry it off - sound wise. But at 7.30pm the curtains drew back to the melodic tune of Alice Cooper’s chicken-head biting ‘Schools Out’ which caused a few old dears to tear out their hearing aids! First bonus to the tech team: good loud sound.

The scene opens with the first of the cast, a head-boy and head-girl having a conversation. It’s easy to hear them thanks to head-mikes. Sound worries disappearing - this is going to be fun. The rest of the suspects appear on stage; an ambidextrous secretary, a headmaster who The Sun paper would have had a field day with and P.E. teacher in shorts looking remarkably like Bob Carolgees from Tiswas minus Spit the Dog! The plot is built around the headmaster’s retirement party; sign the card, dish the dirt and give everyone in the audience a hint as to why each might want to kill him off . Then in bursts the Ruby Gates of Barrow, aka Inspector Ginnie Foot, to announce the headmaster has been stabbed and is no more.

Shock, horror and murmurs from the audience! We’ve had free crisps from the Tuck Shop during the first half and now comes dinner. This was a school-dinner bread-roll, ham, cheese, lettuce, a sausage? and aghhh beetroot, some pickle and coleslaw. Like school-dinners of old it was soon all gone and no seconds. However, let's not forget the excellent school pudding. How many dinner-lady cooks and pupils wished Aldi had been open in the 80s: their lemon cheesecake is damn good.

Cue Part 2 and it’s time for the audience to question the cast. Is the head-boy gay? Does the secretary fancy the entire cast? Is the head-girl, who recently became a mother, another case for The Sun? Some of the questions were on a par with the acting - very funny. The tables received forensic and CSI information plus a picture of the head master on the floor with what looks like an old 80s mobile phone but is really a board-rubber. The audience is really getting into it and even start head banging when ‘Schools Out’ plays for the 40th time. All we need now are a bunch of plods and a George Cole spiv look-alike but we get Ginnie who asks the audience to discover who did it. The answer? The chemistry teacher. Motive? Too bizarre to even think about yet some tables actually got it right!
As always happens in Part 2 of a Murder Mystery the formerly sometimes rather wooden cast become electric as the plot progresses and your reviewer found himself really enjoying the evening. Congratulations to the cast, (see pic) the director Helen Sadler, the production team (nice one tech team) catering team, bar staff , table-servers, bouncers and raffle-ticket sellers. It was a really good show chaps. Will I go next year? Yep. This whole play was a blow to the head - even if it was a stabbing.

Eric Ellingworth

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