Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Alice Barber, Olivia Race and Claire-Marie Seddon
Oldham Coliseum/Front Room productions, interactive streaming murder mystery
April 9-April 25, 2021; about 60min run time (varies with the viewer)
With its last online entertainment, Petrichor, the Coliseum tried something different in the streaming show line – namely a 360-degree virtual-space dance drama. Here again the venerable institution comes up with something fresh and amusing.
Whodunnit at the Coliseum is certainly an ingenious idea. As the theatre claims, it’s part video game, part theatre, part film... but mainly the family game Cluedo, though here we know the weapon and the location and only have to sift out who did it from the clues supplied by the filmed cast.
The body in the front of house manager’s office is that of Fitch (voiced by Harri Pitches), FoH manager and would-be playwright. So ,whodunnit?
Was it sweet Shirley (Riana Duce), the usherette who always keeps rat poison handy? Grace (Victoria Brazier), the local girl-turned-actress, her career ruined by the swine? Hack reviewer Michael (Mick Liversidge), a former friend who gave a shocker of a review to Fitch’s only play? Stanley (Chris Jack), the mill worker whose sister has been wronged by Fitch? Or Ethel (Claire-Marie Seddon), the latest girl bewitched by the lothario, and mad about his lies?
Okay, you have to suspend belief a little bit that a front of house manager’s life is quite so racy, but this 1954, Coliseum-set mystery tale, written by Alice Barber, Olivia Race (who directs) and Claire-Marie Seddon, with cute Fifties design by the ever-resourceful Celia Perkins, looks right and does the job very well. There’s even a trio of songs, with augmented lyrics, to jolly events along.
Dressed up inside a local newspaper-style frame on your computer screen, audiences are first given the chance to meet the potential killers, then follow a map of the theatre, clicking on bars, dressing rooms, front of house areas, the props store and other rooms backstage to ferret out clues and get answers to carefully-posed questions over the course of an hour or so.
It’s all good fun and nicely evocative of the period and costumes, and of course any of the five could potentially have done it, so if you are so inclined you could watch more than once to try your luck (you can watch as often as you like within 48 hours of the ticket date).
If you are wrong, the theatre will be sending the murder solution to ticket holders, with caveats about not spilling the beans, after their ticket window expires.
If there is a downside to the show, it is that the filmed excerpts are a little static and the pace isn’t very varied. There are also heavy pauses while you click between clips or wait for the technology to work.
But it’s a reasonable trade-off because there is plenty to explore and it’s all amusingly done by a strong cast and production team.
And yes, I got the wrong killer. Nice of you to ask.
Booking: click here