Highly Suspect is a highly novel theatrical experience in which four actors take on the roles of supporting players from the Sherlock Holmes stories - Watson, Le Strade, Mycroft and Mrs Hudson. Over the course of the hour, they deftly navigate the audience through a meandering murder mystery, jampacked with twists and clues to solve. It is an innovative idea complete with decent performances and a script that is clever and frequently amusing, yet seldom funny.
clever and frequently amusing
The actors greet their audience on entry to the theatre, armed with hand sanitiser. They set up the fact this will be an interactive show, but miss a trick to further engage people through in-character conversations that would be more immersive than a smile and a sanitiser squirt. The show opens with the actors setting up the premise from a bare stage - we have two murders to solve, a series of clues are accessible via our phones or on paper, and there is the opportunity to interrogate and interact with the cast throughout.
Everything in the show comes together well, but it’s missing a certain ... je ne sais quoi. The puzzles are well designed and encompass a range of difficulties, but rushing to squeeze the show into a tight hour leads Mycroft to ruin a couple of them as soon as they aren't immediately solved. A nudge to help us work out the solution would have been better, which seems like a no brainer.
The actors all perform well and with excellent pace to keep the action rolling, but none takes complete ownership of their role. They bounce off the audience nicely, but during times when we’re clue-solving they mostly stand back and miss the opportunity to walk around the room to further develop the atmosphere.
It’s clear that the audience is fully engaged and enjoying the show throughout, and the concept, writing and execution are all successful. A tiered theatre with a 60 minute time limit may not be the ideal environment to meet its potential, but if you like the sound of Highly Suspect, then it’s guaranteed to not disappoint. With further development, this has the makings of a five-star show.