I have to confess that I have never
been to a murder mystery dinner theatre before, and I was a little
apprehensive as I arrived, but the host for the evening – hotel
manager Mr Ben Dover (Darren Weir) – was both genial and incredibly
camp and soon put the assembling guests at their ease. Our tables
were laid out for ten people, each a character in the mystery. We all
had cards to explain our “back story” and a character name badge.
To introduce us to the evening’s
entertainment a short DVD is played. On it we see the late Duke of
Yorkie who explains yet more of the back story and he tells us that
we are about to hear his last will and testament. At this point the
actors arrive and take up the main character parts in the tale.
In this mystery The Duke’s
Will, there are five “live” characters that interact
with the characters being portrayed by audience members. Of course,
it would be unfair of me to divulge too much of the storyline except
to say that, as well as discovering exactly how the Duke passed away,
the audience also have to solve a second death and work their way
through a tissue of lies spun by the various characters.
With the background noise at the level
that it is during the meal, it would be helpful if all of the
characters were wearing microphones, but the company do ensure that,
whenever something crucial to the plot is revealed, it is amplified
so that everyone has a chance to spot the clues. It has to be said
though that it does take a master sleuth to work their way through a
plot that is far too complex for the dinner theatre arena.
Each of the scenes that happen
throughout the evening is carefully crafted and contains just as many
red herrings as there are clues, again, maybe just a few too many of
both to make solving the mystery an easy task. The final scenes,
where the detective of the piece does the Hercule Poirot bit, are
rather drawn out and, as a result, the audience’s attention starts
to wander and, rather unfortunately, the noise level begins to rise
Over all this is an entertaining
evening although, as I have said, simplifying the extremely complex
plot would help to keep the attention and focus on the show rather
than the (very tasty) dinner.