After three sell-out evening shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week the Cluedunnit company decided to add a Saturday matinee to their repertoire. As a late addition to the schedule it was well attended. The room was half full with eager punters.
Familiar as I am with the cabaret space Downstairs at the Maj I must say it looked especially lovely. Black table clothes topped round tables, subtle lighting and there were gorgeous centerpieces of tall glass vases filled with gold glitter and topped with a cascade of white peacock feathers. 1930’s club glam to a tee!
The show kicked off with a spirited opening by the urbane Oscars host, Jonathon Mapletree (James Hancox) in fine form. Our compere introduced us to a vivid cast of characters all involved in two Oscar nominated film houses. Max Reedmond (Ingle Knight), Owner/Producer of Dream Studios a rival company to Centurion Films and a bitter nemesis to Barton Hayes, its Director (Michael Loney). He believes Hayes has somehow stolen the script of his own would-be Oscar winner Kiss Me Now.
We then meet “MGM”; Marjorie Gae Millington Owner/Producer of Centurion Films, (Nichola Renton) and James Stonngton-Smythe (Cal Silberstein) the young, handsome lead that Centurion, has cast as leading man in Love of a Stranger.
Making up this fabulous entourage are two off camera personalities, Toni Heame (Daniel Wilson) and Hattie Hughes (Fiona McDonald). He is a theatre costume and make-up designer with aspirations to make it into the movies. She is a production assistant, keen to help the company but sadly naïve in the ways of leading, and in fact, most other men.
The murder that introduces the audience to the plot is that of Max Reedman. Fatally stabbed with a monogrammed letter opener. Luckily our host informed us, there is a note!
This theme follows suit in subsequent disposals and we are left to ponder and discuss the motives of two further unexpected deaths!
Instead of a staged theatrical production, the actors, in character, strolled from table to table chatting animatedly with audience members and reacting to the sinister plot developments.
The attention to detail was outstanding. Our Oscars host read us the murderer’s farewell notes and then distributed copies to all tables for us to peruse. There was a clever nod to Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) with one note being delivered in an enigmatic line of dancing men. Plus a very nasty farewell line from a rival film star.
The audience was enthralled and when answer sheets were distributed for our answers and motives to be noted, there was a rush of enthusiastic discussion and theorizing. Finally conclusions were reached and the results were announced. I was thrilled to announce my table (7) was an equal draw with another table who also named the murderer correctly.
I was informed by theatre staff some patrons have been returning on a monthly basis. That is how often His Majesty’s Theatre has been leasing out Downstairs at the Maj to the company in the final weekend of each month.
Not an entirely new concept but one so stylishly written and performed deserves praise and certainly a devoted following.
The menu should be mentioned as part of the excellent package deal. All three courses were absolutely delicious and beautifully served.
Murder at the Oscars
Venue: Downstairs at the Maj | His Majesty's Theatre, Perth WA
Dates: 24 – 26 Feb 2022
Tickets: $119 includes 3-course dinner