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Cyanide in the Speakeasy playing at the COLAB Tavern

I’ve always shuddered at the thought of how difficult writing a whodunnit must be. The author knows who the killer is, so how can they possibly drop hints, clear enough to allow the reader to figure out the culprit, but still subtle enough that they don’t make it completely obvious? To me, it’s a very impressive skill, and one I can’t get my head around.

Cyanide in the Speakeasy
Cyanide in the Speakeasy

At Cyanide at the Speakeasy, we’re dropped into the middle of a murder investigation. The owner of the illegal prohibition-era venue is dead, and the killer is one of those still left in the building. Our job, as amateur detectives, is to question the suspects and unveil the guilty party.

There’s always a balance to be struck in these sorts of immersive shows – at the most interactive end of the sliding scale of site-specific theatre – between set pieces, where you see the actors delivering scripted (or narrowly improvised) scenes, and the more free-flowing action. Here, the emphasis is upon us finding our own way, though at three or four moments throughout the show we are brought back to the main lounge bar, to watch and learn. The effect of this decision is that most of the time, with us interrogating (or chumming up to) the suspects, the show relies upon the improvisational skills of the actors. Happily, they do not disappoint, answering all our questions, no matter how off-beat. Particular praise is due for Alice Corrigan as Rose Hartsby (whose singing voice also impresses), and Lauren Shotton as Daisy Cordon, both of whose quick-witted responses to the wildest of suppositions reveal rich back-stories. I’ve no idea how much is made up on the spot, and it’s a credit to all the actors that they seamlessly find ways to drop in tidbits of the information we need to put together a case.

Meanwhile, there is friendly collaboration and friendly competition amongst audience members, pooling or concealing the lines of enquiry we’re pursuing. A shout-out is necessary for Katie, whose friends make sure everyone knows it’s her birthday. She is sporting even as they do not miss a single opportunity to volunteer or embarrass her!

So do they pull off the trick of keeping the trail intriguing, but giving us enough clues to point to the killer? As I say, it’s a fine art, and sadly I’m not sure any of these shows have perfected it quite yet. I find myself both overwhelmed by the number of hints, and second-guessing what feels like it might be too obvious. Even so, I never feel like it’s a slog, or that I’m not enjoying myself, and that’s 90% of the battle.

If you’re looking for a show where you can sit back in silence and watch the action unfold, look elsewhere. But for an interactive ride, grab a friend or two or ten, and get stuck in.

4 stars

Review by Ben Ross

Enter the door and step back in time to 1920’s prohibition, as Moonstone Murder Mysteries takes over the COLAB Tavern for this Immersive Murder Mystery.

The year is 1925, and as Speakeasies pop up under every street corner, the elites are forced to mix alike with the common man for the simple taste of moonshine. Just off the corner of Wall Street, through an inconspicuous convenience store, hides the infamous Smokey Blues Speakeasy.

The owner, a ruthless crook, prides himself on gathering blackmail on his patrons and it seems someone has had enough of his devious schemes. Join Moonstone Murder Mysteries for this immersive experience, where you will have the opportunity to interrogate suspects, decipher clues and try avoid red herrings along the way!

All the clues are there, will they be deduced?

Can you catch the killer?

Cyanide in the Speakeasy

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