The scene is set. It’s Christmas Eve at Drenchblood Heights, the home of the gentile Lady Titan (Genevieve-vieve!) and her rambunctious husband, Lord Titan, and they’re waiting for the invited guests of their murder mystery party to arrive. One by one, or sometimes two, the guests make their entrance and yet the stage, throughout this performance, is only ever occupied by two people...
This show is simply brilliant: in script, characterisation and delivery
Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding (Edinburgh Fringe LST Sketch-Off Finalists, 2017) form the comedy writing and acting duo LoveHard and for the next 60 minutes in Murdered By Murder these gifted performers, alternately and continually, morph into ten (I may have lost count!) different characters without the help of any additional props, save for a waiting napkin draped over the butler’s forearm. Instead of costume changes, make-up, wigs or facial hair each new character is heralded by an uttered “whoosh”. There then follows a believable metamorphosis: a change to the accent or tone of their voice, an exaggerated facial expression (love the Butler’s gawp!) or a pretend prop, as per the cigarette à la Arabella Penne Arrabbiata (a vacuous, London ‘IT’ girl) and voilà! - a new character is formed.
The unfolding narrative is a pastiche of any Agatha Christie novel you’d care to mention (particularly the end reveal), with a hint of Priestley’s The Inspector Calls and a smattering of Cluedo thrown in for good measure. It’s also a send-up of English country life, with the vicarage inhabitants, the mayor and the aristocratic upper classes all taking a bashing from Lovick and Harding’s perceptive and insightful writing. Each character is caricatured to the max; Lord Titan, for example, strokes his rotund tummy, splutters and guffaws, and struggles to utter the word “purrr” (the poor) whilst sitting in his four-kitchened mansion with a lawn made out of Victorian children. He’s an odious country gent - each guest seems to have a reason to want him dead and, as the murder mystery game is about to begin, real life events take a sudden and dramatic turn. Drenchblood Heights is now no longer the setting for a Christmas Eve party, but a murder investigation. But who-done-it? Was it Shivers the Butler in the living room with the leaded pipe? Or Reverend Bell Sniff in the kitchen with the dagger? To solve the crime, we need to pay attention and follow the twists, turns, flashbacks and character reveals... it’s complicated stuff but very, very clever and highly entertaining!
This show is simply brilliant: in script, characterisation and delivery. These two young talents deserve all the praise they have had and will have. There’s a little bit of Fry and Laurie in their performance and, like their famous predecessors, Lovick and Harding’s partnership is comfortable, their writing intelligent and their timing impeccable. These actors seamlessly role-switch (it’s impressive), their memories are phenomenal (the script is complex and jam-packed) and their acting is, invariably, superb. A mention should also go to Nick Charleworth who ably provides appropriate background music that adds to the show’s drama and amusement. At the risk of repeating every other reviewer – this duo are a Fringe-watch-must and are surely destined for great, great things.