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Murder at the Mowbray (tour - Brighton, Thistle Hotel)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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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 again.

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.


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