Max, who is taking part in our Arts Training Scheme, reviews regular improv comedy night Hickory Dickory Murder.
Arriving for the performance and sitting front row centre (not my favourite seat) and straight away being invited to participate with the evening’s events, I had a feeling of trepidation, but also ‘hey, let’s roll with this!’. So, we knew what era the setting was 1930s Art Deco, and that was it – the rest was new to everyone, performers included.
I presumed that the evening would be based on an Agatha Christie crime novel, and in the main part I was right. The Dead Secrets are a troupe of improvising performers, inviting the audience, 10 minutes before the show begins, to set the plot, characters – pretty much everything – and they do the rest.
How an east London train driver (Nathan Grassi), incompetent ornithologist (Chris Sugden), angry vegan (Will Payne) and the crime-solving famous writer (Jennifer Sugden), firstly get to the finals of a Scrabble championship which happens to be set in a Norwegian mountaintop hotel overlooking a fjord (obviously) is literally fantastical, but that is the point! Dr Robins had been murdered by a fellow Scrabble competitor, but who, and why? These questions needed answering before the night was over.
The improvised script was delivered in a brilliantly comical, skilled way, and how some sense was made out of nonsense was simply amazing – hats off to the cast. The quick thinking, seemingly seamless flow of the story with its multiple use of additional characters, just added to the humour of the whole evening. It really was very entertaining.
Once the heinous murder had been committed of the famous Scrabble champion/ornithologist Dr Robins, electrocuted through a modified Scrabble tile ‘trough’ mid-game, the plot immediately thickened. Fair play to the writer (Jen Sugden) as she left no trough maker unquestioned, no previous Scrabble mentor unvisited, and no Scrabble conglomerate CEO unchallenged.
In the end, it was a quite simple mystery to solve – a former rival train driver who had many resentments towards Dr Robins (mainly he was better at Scrabble player) had commissioned the making of the trough which electrocuted his enemy.
I very much enjoyed Hickory Dickory Murder. The Dead Secrets are very, very good at what they do. If you get a chance to see them perform it is well worth it, and the next time I do will be completely different, which I’m looking forward to.
The Dead Secrets perform Hickory Dickory Murder on the first Wednesday of every month in the Bar at the Old Fire Station. Click here for more info.