Cemetery A and crematorium to the left, Cemetery B to the right – and it appears to be getting dark earlier than expected. You know it’s going to be an exceptional immersive experience when you’re unsettled before the show even begins! But if the walk along the necropolis and through several dark and deserted streets isn’t enough to get your pulse racing, this show certainly will!
Uncorked Theatre’s How to Solve a Problem Like Murder is a voyeuristic immersive production that completely dissociates the audience from reality, plunging them deep into the world of paradise. Unapologetic in its display of raw human emotion, it is an exploration of love, violence, jealousy and passion which is both captivating and confronting.
The location is impressively dressed for the production, with no detail left to chance. As we are presented with our masks and welcomed into a world of taxidermied birds, religious relics and backstage theatrical paraphernalia it’s not hard to check reality at the door and hurl yourself ‘down the rabbit hole.’
A FOMO’s worst nightmare, this fast-paced production leaves no time for idle wandering as audiences find themselves rushing between scenes trying desperately to keep up with various plot points playing out simultaneously. Indeed, if you really want to solve the crime, form a team! As audience members can freely move between rooms at their own pace, it’s impossible to see everything and it’s highly likely you’ll miss something vital while following a hunch or an intriguing storyline.
Red herrings are plentiful and there is no shortage of action, ensuring that even the most practiced of theatrical sleuths are presented with a challenge. That said, no matter what your approach, you can’t make a wrong choice as each scene is crafted with a depth and purpose that links into the diverse and intricate web of backstories and motives.
The cast as a whole are phenomenal and the interplay between characters in such an open and honest forum provides an exquisitely intimate experience for the audience. Not giving anything away, but I don’t use that term lightly given one scene I walked in on!
Characterisation aside, where this cast truly excels beyond all expectations is the choreography. Set in a cabaret/dance hall, the movement is perfectly polished and flawlessly executed, with each and every performer truly stunning, particularly in the partner work. There are obvious shifts in the emotional intensity of the choreography, reflecting the ever-changing character relationships which help show the balance of power in physical form and with added intensity.
In immersive performance commitment to character takes on a whole new meaning and without a doubt, Luke Cassar presented one of the strongest performances I’ve seen in the genre. Adorably innocent but with something clearly disturbed bubbling beneath, his focus is unwavering particularly during one-to-one chats with the audience! His offsider, Alexandra Brailsford is equally engaging and complements his performance brilliantly. While I didn’t have the opportunity to form as much of a relationship with her character, her ability to gain the undivided attention of the audience is undeniable.
The ensemble of protagonists are outstandingly strong as a unit, with each a lead in their own right. Given your experience is wholly determined by which course or character you chose to follow it’s difficult to fully appreciate each performance, however despite my hunch (right or wrong) that I should be following other characters, and despite my agreement with my companion that we would split up, both of us found ourselves drawn into one narrative. Dangerously charming and undeniably compelling, Isaac Money presents a character who is almost impossible to disconnect from once you’re invested. Exuding a distinctive presence which sets him apart, he appears the most evocative of the dancers when ‘on stage’, and, ‘off stage’, delivers a character who provides no shortage of emotional complexity for audiences to ponder within the greater narrative.
Simply put, this is immersive theatre at its best. The cast are exceptional and the integration of dance and theatrics further diversifies the level of entertainment. Not a weak link in sight, the one thing I can say for sure is that while you’ll walk away on a high, you’ll certainly leave with a distinct discontent, for this is an experience that demands repeat visits! After all, who wouldn’t choose to spend another night in paradise?
Review by Cassandra Griffin
Back by popular demand, London’s favourite murder mystery returns to the confined hallways of Paradise by way of Kensal Green. Soaked in sin, each room has kept its secrets safe. The walls buzz with excitement, holding a new fate at every turn. But a crime as heinous as murder can only be buried for so long.
Sixteen months ago, a woman disappeared, leaving a loving husband, a best friend, and a once thriving business, all unhinged. Now, on the eve of Paradise Bar’s annual masquerade celebration, a new mystery is about to unfold, leaving you to answer not one, but two questions: who died, and who killed.
A guess must be made, by you and you alone. Our murder may be solved, with your mobile phone. Please arrive with a fully charged mobile device, as it may be used to enhance your experience. Once immersed, you will have the opportunity to text in your response to the following questions: who was murdered, and who is the murderer?
Seven suspects. Seven sins. No one is innocent.
Abbie Steele as Vivienne
Phil Aizlewood as Carl
Joseph Foyster as Joseph
Hollie Dorman as Stella
Bex Slater as Marci
Isaac Money as James
Lee Hedges as Nick
Christie Lee Manning as Jules
Luke Cassar as Storyteller#1
Alexandra Brailsford as Storyteller#2
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