The UK premiere of this hilarious and charming musical provides many much needed laughs.
Flamboyant, enthusiastic and energetic are just a few words to describe this delightful musical that has thrown every technological trick at it to make for a really entertaining to watch.
Written by Rachel Axler and Kait Kerrigan, A Killer Party was originally created during the first lockdown and premiered online in America last year as a nine episode watch. It follows the investigation of the murder of Varthur McArthur, failed West End actor and artistic director of Blackpool’s smallest regional theatre – with the suspects all sitting around the table it should be easy enough for Traffic-Police-Officer turned-Detective Justine Case to put together the pieces of who killed him – but of course its not really that straight forward.
It certainly has a feel of The Play That Goes Wrong about it as Justine Case haphazardly interviews each of the suspects who are sent into separate rooms to ‘isolate’ as she tries to build a picture of what happened. There are moments when the plot feels as though it meanders a little bit but it is hard not to be charmed and drawn into the drama that is unfolding – particularly as it becomes clear that Justine is frustrated by the amount of singing going on.
What makes this quite a clever piece of musical theatre is the way in which the songs are used to not only to build up a picture of the characters but also to parody as many aspects of a typical murder mystery as possible. In particular, I loved the music video vibe of ‘I Did it For You’ – brilliantly performed by Cedric Neal and Debbie Kurup, it is a song that is sharply witty lyrically and filled with suitable theatricality and drama musically. Elsewhere, ‘Boom! Shout! The Lights Went Out’ is another highlight song that captures the spirit of the show really nicely as does ‘Process of Elimination’.
Some may find that the over the top nature of the characters a bit overwhelming at times – but it is actually this silly playfulness that lies at the heart of its appeal. Director Benji Sperring has ensured the energy is consistent throughout, while making full use of the technology available – in particular I loved the way in which a set design animated concept was used to make it look as though all the characters were back in the same room. Perhaps some of the transitions between scenes could have been slightly smoother – but it is still an immense achievement for everyone to have put together this fun piece of entertainment.
The performances are also all wonderfully flamboyant and you can honestly tell just how much fun they are all having in performing this material. In particular Lucas Rush as Clarke Staples has a wonderful comedic presence that brings the character to life effectively as does Oscar Conlon Morrey as Shea Crescendo. Elsewhere, Rachel Tucker is wonderfully glamorous and diva like as Joan McArthur and Cedric Neal is wonderfully charismatic as George Murderer.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are looking for some much needed laughs then A Killer Party is certainly worth a watch.
By Emma Clarendon
A Killer Party is available to watch on stream.theatre until the 30th May 2021 www.akillerparty.co.uk/