first night

CTC's 'Murder Mystery'

Leo Mylonadis finds the Castle 'Murder Mystery' to die for

 

A promenade murder mystery set in Durham’s castle is no easy feat to accomplish: the logistics of such a performance are significant to say the least, and captivating an audience in such a spectacular environment can be intimidating. Nonetheless, CTC’s Murder Mystery manages to deliver a truly enjoyable experience, which keeps you guessing who may have committed the “heinous act”.

 

The night begins in the World Heritage Visitors’ Centre, from where we are led to the Norman Gallery by Cartwright: the calm butler who seems to know too much, played by Michael Earnshaw. Earnshaw manages to create an atmosphere of Victorian propriety despite being faced with the task of guiding the audience through an entirely non-atmospheric Durham Friday night, complete with drunken freshers and all. As soon as we set foot in the castle, we are brought quickly up to speed with the situation by various scenes swiftly and smoothly following on from one another, explaining the relationships between the characters. From there we are led, scene-by-scene, into various rooms of the castle, and from there the plot unfolds.

 

Credit must be given to director Chris Blois-Brooke, who managed to coordinate the multitude of scenes with a fluidity that ensured the pace never dropped, and managed to vary the setting just often enough that we experienced the majority of the Norman Gallery and adjoining rooms without growing tired of the many transitions. However, whether it was the lack of energy or the difficulties the unique spaces posed, at times the action would tend to take place in the corner, shying away from the us when ideally the cast would have commanded the space.

 

The cast, who on the whole provided a captivating performance, rose admirably to the occasion. Izzie Price delivered a moving performance, effortlessly bringing the script to life in a wholly believable and empathetic portrayal of the strong, tragic Maria, complemented by a suitably violent and aggressive David Myers as her brother, John. Pippa Mosley splendidly portrayed the maid, Annie, always on edge, with commendable energy and commitment. There were no weak links in the cast, and they worked in total sync as they weaved through the lavish rooms and passageways.

 

The only flaws with the performance lay perhaps in the nerves and lack of confidence that comes with most first performances, especially ones as logistically complicated as this. In addition, the script, written by Durham’s own Cressida Peever, made a bold attempt at creating an intricate and believable plot for us to follow, but at times lacked consistency and was prone to cliché: the presence of the audience was sometimes, but not always, acknowledged and the tone ranged from attempts at caricature-driven comedy to serious, threatening family drama which often lacked real, emotional dialogue when it was needed the most.

 

On the whole, the performances combined with the unique concept and the interval’s delightful snacks (the cheddar cubes are to die for) made for a wholly enjoyable evening: a thrilling murder mystery in such a wonderful space makes for a night you'll never forget.

 

 

30 November 2013

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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