Murder, She Didn’t write: The Improvised Murder Mystery is a completely improvised whodunnit based on audience suggestions. Poor old Detective William (Willy) Solveit has forgotten the details of his latest case, and must call upon the audience to remind him of the setting, victim and culprit.
The framing of this improvised comedy is very clever. The audience is asked for suggestions throughout the show, rather than just at the beginning, and the conceit of the detective needing help to remember the details incorporates the suggestions smoothly into the story. Each character was assigned a colour (identified by their name and clothes), and an audience member was asked to choose the victim and the murderer using these colours. This information was then shown to the cast, but not to the rest of the audience.
The storyline was silly, entertaining and original, and it held together well. After half an hour spent on an introduction and the occurrence of the murder though, the cast is left with little time to build a story, and so the characters and relationships between them were quite shallow.
The ending is always key in any murder mystery, as it is delivers the satisfaction and (hopefully) surprise of finding out who committed the murder. Unfortunately, at the end of this particular mystery I felt a little let down, as the motive for murder wasn’t explained very well and didn’t really make sense. Normally I would expect to look back on that character’s behaviour and see in hindsight some kind of clue hinting at their guilt, but in this story, it felt like the murderer could have been picked completely at random just before the big reveal, rather than thirty minutes of show-time in advance.
For the most part, I would have characterised the show as more theatre than comedy, as it wasn’t as out-and-out funny as could be expected. That said, there were some brilliant puns and one-liners, especially from the character who turned out to have been the culprit. The detective was my favourite, as his interruptions throughout the show were hilarious, along with his introduction at the start. Overall the show is polished and professional – and the storyline manages to run smoothly while retaining the joy of improvisation.