Photography by Luke Tisher
Oliver Moore would make a terrible detective.
The SUDS Summer season continues this week with J’Accuse, an interactive murder mystery loosely styled on Cluedo.
I have always wanted to host my own murder mystery themed dinner party. Particularly those pre-set games where everyone is assigned a character and you act out the plot, forcing one bewildered guest to solve the puzzle and pronounce one of us the murderer. I thought about this quite a lot, mostly when my attempts to play such a game with my sole eleven-year-old friend fell apart. As an actual adult, my similarly adult friends are unfortunately not as keen on this idea as I am, and so I was understandably enthused at the prospect of outsourcing this experience to the very talented actors of SUDS.
Upon entering the Cellar Theatre-turned-mansion we were presented with the task of solving the murder of Mr. E. Armed with our notepads and magnifying glasses my fellow investigators and I were at liberty to roam our surrounds and interview the guests (The impeccably acted Miss Scarlet, Doctor Peacock, Professor Plum, Mrs White, and Colonel Mustard, of course) in the hope of stumbling upon a clue. The interactivity was completely immersive, and I fell briefly but vigorously into my role as detective, only to discover just how hard it is to ask pointed and revealing questions when you know literally nothing about the case.
Jim Fishwick and Anna Rowe have devised a marvellous and thrilling adaptation that is just familiar enough to be comforting, but still completely novel. The costuming and set mimicked the style of the board game perfectly, and the copy of it on the shelf in the conservatorium (complete with secret passageway!) was a nice touch.
The only downside to this thoroughly enjoyable romp is the time limit. The half-hour length was not nearly long enough for my dinner party fantasy to be fulfilled, and I would have loved a little longer to fully get to the bottom of the case which my fellow investigators and I completely failed to solve, crushing yet another childhood dream of a career as a private detective.
J’Accuse was a wonderfully fun experience both firmly rooted in, but totally removed from, traditional theatre. Both the acting and the plot were fast-paced and full of surprises and I firmly encourage you all to go along and try your hand at solving the mystery yourselves.