The Other Palace, London – until 13 January 2019
This energetic and spoof-style musical murder mystery has plenty of wacky characters to provide plenty of entertainment but can get a little bit carried away.
Paying a fun tribute to murder mysteries, Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair’s musical comedy whodunnit is a sharply executed and energetic production that exaggerates and spoofs many of the elements that make murder mysteries so popular.
When a renowned author is brutally murdered in a grand house in a small town in America, it is up to Officer Marcus to try and discover who the murderer is, questioning numerous zany characters – all of whom have their motives for murder. Along the way, there are plenty of song and dance numbers that hilariously capture both the characters and the situation they now find themselves in.
Luke Sheppard’s production has a great pace about it, keeping the story and musical numbers as lively as possible – but can at times expose the weakness of the book that doesn’t allow the characters to develop sufficiently or has any real suspicious incidents to keep the audience guessing as to who is the culprit. It is an exuberant production, that fully makes the most of the comedy to great effect – highlighted perfectly during numbers such as ‘A Lot Woise’ and ‘He Needs a Partner’.
The entire show has a music hall vibe to it in terms of the way it places entertainment right at the centre of it – whether it is Mrs Whitney finally getting a chance to do her big number or the way in which Jeremy Legat and Ed MacArthur perform the musical numbers on the piano with great enthusiasm and energy.
It has to be said that while Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair’s music and lyrics are distinctively witty and reflect the characters well, they can be at times be in danger of becoming too silly that it comes across as trying too hard in places. None of the songs push the story forward in anyway but do give a strong insight into the characters – ensuring that this is a musical that is very much character driven.
What lifts the musical is the strongly charismatic performances of Jeremy Legat as all of the suspects and Ed MacArthur as Officer Marcus. The pair have an extraordinary task in bringing all of the characters to life as well as taking it in turns to play the piano – but they make it look so effortless.
In particular, Jeremy Legat has a difficult job in portraying all of the quirky suspects with only just the slightly change in mannerisms to highlight the switch between characters. From the flirtatious dancer Barette to Mrs Whitney, it is extraordinary to watch the way he transforms himself so quickly while keeping track of who he is supposed to be. The female characters have plenty to do – in particular Mrs Whitney’s niece Steph who is desperate to help Officer Marcus with the case is a character who is particularly enjoyable to watch come to life. Meanwhile, Ed MacArthur does well as Officer Marcus who is so desperate to become a detective that he wants to solve the case within an hour of the real detective turning up. Both performances require great skill and comic timing for the audience to fully immerse themselves in the story.
Overall, if you are looking for some entertaining escapism for a couple of hours this is worth a watch – even if it is just to see these two extraordinary performers bring it all to hilarious life with great energy and enthusiasm.