Working Actor: Performing in Murder Mystery in Norfolk

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Last week in the deepest, darkest, nethers of Norfolk, I took part in performing in a Murder Mystery for the first time.

I had been approached, after the director of one of the productions I was working on, passed on my name to the owner of the company who runs the events. I felt incredibly humbled and grateful to be recommended on the basis of my acting with the theatre company.

Murder Mystery Dinner

I had heard of the Murder Mystery evenings before. There are a few in the Norfolk region I believe. But, to be honest, I had felt far too nervous to show an interest. It’s a completely different kettle of fish to theatre, where everything is fully blocked, scripted and rehearsed beforehand. Murder Mystery is more fly-by-the-seat of your pants entertainment.

Although there is a script and plot, everyone knows the roles they play and the information that their character needs to impart to the audience, there is much more improvisation involved. The actors have a good amount of free reign with the audience. And equally the audience are free to, and are indeed encouraged, to unleash their curiosity and question the characters to find out ‘Who did it”.

As someone who is often accused of “thinking too much” I found the concept of being interrogated by an eager audience of amateur detectives, who are intent on hunting down the killer, more than a little intimidating. On this, my first foray into Murder Mystery, I hadn’t even anything to hide as in this case, I hadn’t killed anyone.

Two to Tango, One to Kill

Also, it turned out that my “partner” for the evening was my ex-partner.  It was very strange.  I suffered ptsd / anxiety at the tumultuous end of our relationship and have actively gone out of my way to avoid acknowledging that I share the same universe as he does, let alone be in the same room. This region is small, and the arts scene smaller, so I was very aware that we were due to cross paths eventually, but I had actively ensured that this was as unlikely to happen as I possible could. So, things initally felt a little surreal – like bumping into a ghost – doubly weird for me as I don’t believe in such nonsense.

However, I am a professional. Past is past. So I carried on carrying on despite the uncertainty of how the evening was going to progress. All went smoothly. We performed. We were civil. We survived. Both scriptwise and metaphorically.

Murder has Never Been so Much Fun

Anyhoo, to cut a long story short, the evening went extremely well once I relaxed into it. I am incredibly grateful to my director for introducing me to Murder Mystery and inadvertently forcing me to face my past demons.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to work on something completely different. It was fascinating having to hold character as someone accused me of crocodile tears and vehemently expressing that they knew that I was, most definitely, the murderer  (I wasn’t). I am looking forward to my next foray into Murder Mystery from a far more stable and confident starting block next time.

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