Theatre Review: MURDER, SHE DIDN’T WRITE – Leicester Square Theatre, London

The cast of MURDER, SHE DIDN'T WRITE. Photo Credit: Jamie Corbin

The cast of MURDER, SHE DIDN’T WRITE. Photo Credit: Jamie Corbin

MURDER, SHE DIDN’T WRITE is a pacy, funny, unpredictable hour of murderous fun

There’s always a risk with improv shows, especially ones that rely on audience suggestions, that you could end up with a hit or miss show. Fortunately, the team behind Degrees of Error’s hilarious and innovative MURDER, SHE DIDN’T WRITE seem so well versed in the wacky whims of an audience that you are pretty much guaranteed a pacy, funny, unpredictable hour of murderous fun.

Best described as SHERLOCK HOLMES meets MOUSETRAP meets CLUEDO, MURDER, SHE DIDN’T WRITE is a farcical murder mystery romp that is both witty and hugely entertaining. The premise behind the show is simple but effective – a murder has been committed but the detective investigating the case can’t remember who died, who the murderer is or where it happened. At this point, the audience is called upon to assist, acting as both author and sleuth as they are invited to help to create their very own Agatha Christie-inspired masterpiece. Using audience suggestions, evidence and ideas, the team create a bespoke world with one lucky audience member getting to play god by choosing both the murderer and victim.

Of course, the great thing about improv is that the show is different every night. On this occasion – The Case of the Seat Less Unicycle – a group of stock 1930s figures are gathered together to celebrate a cat’s birthday, before the vicious murder of a performing clown is discovered. Yes, this down right bizarre storyline may sound a little flimsy but somehow, the tight five-strong cast manage to pull together well, delivering a series of pussy inspired jokes and downright daft clowning about.

Of course, MURDER, SHE DIDN’T WRITE isn’t the first themed improv show out there (AUSTENTATIOUS and THE SHOWSTOPPERS spring to mind), but what makes this particular show different is the way in which it delivers the proceedings. Jerkins (a member of the audience) becomes the Lieutenant’s assistant, and the audience’s suggestions are channelled through him, which makes proceedings flow better than in other improv shows.

The cast also make good use of music and technical elements. Bits of the set are used to add to the comedy and live musical accompaniment helps the transition between scenes. The lighting set-up is also played very well here, the performers and technicians responding to the evolving storyline to great effect, the blackouts often occurring on the punchline of the joke.

As is to be expected from an improvised show, the storyline is fairly ragged throughout and some scenes are much slicker than others, mainly caused by a lack of cohesion when one actor isn’t quite on the same page as another.

That said, the most part, the narrative bounces along merrily and each character is given enough of a personality to eke out a few laughs, no matter what the subject. This is an excellent concept delivered by an excellent cast who somehow manage to make a remarkably intricate and engaging murder mystery from the wackiest of ideas. Even Poirot would be proud.

4 out of 5 stars

MURDER, SHE DIDN’T WRITE runs at Leicester Square Theatre, London until 18 November 2018.