Monthly Archives: April 2007

Eccentricities

Prime Suspect is currently busy beavering away at finding a swanky manor/hotel in the Leeds area for a Gosford Park meets Upstairs/Downstairs murder mystery for a private client. His little brain has been thinking of a way to ensure that all of the guests get to dine properly, even if they are playing “downstairs” roles. It’s all very well for Murder to Measure lackeys to have to serve dinner and get abuse thrown at them by their “masters”, but not entirely fair to guests who will expect more than a stale slice of bread and dripping at the kitchen table once their betters are asleep.
The solution might well be a “bring your servant to work day”, or similar – I’m sure there must be historical examples of such a practice, but can’t find one. I’ve even poured through that wonderful pot-pourri which is Catherine Caufield’s The Emperor of the United States of America and Other Magnificent British Eccentrics, but nothing has revealed itself as of yet. But the strange behaviours do certainly suggest that a fictional murder mystery character might well have such a trait … the British are so very good at being odd, don’t you think?

And another one bites the dust.

Mr Chopin Basket is, er, proud to announce the engagement of his daughter, Helena Ann to Mr Luke Whicker. And what fun we had…some dabblings in the dark arts, a decidedly dodgy undertaker and one of the liveliest audiences we’ve come across for ages.

A big thank you to all those who supported St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice at Ivel Barbarian’s Rugby club tonight – it looks like we’ve met the £2000 target for the evening, which is great news. M2M regulars turned in a sterling performance – for free – and the whole murder mystery flew by in an instant. We look forward to repeating this in the near future.

A Dire Engagement is available to any group who can provide a venue and catering and comes with the hearty recommendations of tonight’s guests.

You stopped us from killing each other

Tom Jones, Tom Jones
You’ll never know but you saved our lives
Space

Yes, forsooth, Tom Jones may indeed be saving the lives of several potential victims in June when Prime Suspect features as the eponymous hero of Henry Fielding’s saucy tale of a foundling.
Me.
It’s no so much a case of treading the boards as dodging the cowpats, as this will be a touring, outdoor production hitting every major field this side of Devon for a fortnight. As befits a touring production, the set is minimal – simply a case of bed and bawd, so to speak, and PS was thrown headlong into the latter last night and made the acquaintance of several young ladies before even knowing their names. The director’s instructions to “pull him off behind the bushes” were almost accurate – although of course, ’tis all done, sire, in the best possible taste.

Don’t think you’ve got off lightly though – our willing band of cut throats and victims will still be plying their trade throughout the land, so keep your eyes peeled for announcements.

All change

We take the solubility of our mysteries seriously at Murder Towers – which is why events leading up to a recent murder have caused us to scratch heads longer than usual. The rule we have is that every murder should have only one solution that can be logically worked out from the facts presented. Prime Suspect has been to several events hosted by other companies where the identifying the murderer either seemed to be a random guess or has relied upon a single clue or piece of evidence that most guests would have missed.

Not so here. Although there will be a complicated web surrounding it, a Murder to Measure mystery will have one person, and only one person, who had the motive, means and opportunity to commit the crime, and our MCs will ensure that everyone has the information required to solve the case.

So when a potential murder victim asks to have a lesser role we need a major rethink – motives need to be reassigned and a number of major clues need a significant rewrite… but that’s what we do at Murder Towers – create scenarios that fit your requirements even if these change late into the day – which is why it is now half past midnight and my bed has turned into a pumpkin.

Helium and the effect on the voice

Chief Suspect has, I’m afraid, been a little distracted of late. This is due, in part, to the acquisition of a new computer monitor which seems to be at least 5 times bigger than his old one, but more importantly to the discovery of www.helium.com.
He has always sought to post relevant articles to various site in the hope that this will impress Mr Google and his ilk, but Helium is different. It actually pays you for you articles, and every week comes up with a new list of suggested topics to set the creative mind buzzing.
Thusfar he has waxed lyrical about upcoming movie releases, the pros and cons of composting and the science behind waves – never a dull moment at murder towers. Check all this and more out at Helium and see what else you can discover. The experience can be addictive, I promise you.

Words, words, words – I’m so sick of words

I get words all day long first from him then from you
Is that all you blighters can do?
Eliza Doolittle, My Fair Lady

Oh how I hate learning lines! Makes me remember one of the reasons I love working with improv – there’s a total freedom to expostulate at will, so long as you remain in character and, in the case of murder mysteries, stay within the scenario guidelines. And the ideas that you can come up with on the spot are often far funnier than those that you get when actually writing a script. I find that play scripts can take many, many hours of banging your fingers at the keyboard until they eventually bleed funny, but when you’re in the performance zone they just coming spewing out as if you’d tapped into an artery.
Do it right and the punters actually think you are working from a script – many’s the time I’ve been asked “How do you learn all the lines?” I usually just nod sagely and say that I learnt most of them in my youth – I just didn’t know what order to put them in until that night.
And this is why scripts can be so bloody hard to learn. Even the most gifted playwright will write words and turns of phrase that don’t match those that would be chosen by a performer interpreting a character. Thus it’s pretty easy to get the gist of things across, but getting the exact phrases to stay in the head is like trying to sweep up leaves on a windy autumn day.
I have resorted to the old “tape-recorder” trick (well, it’s modern computer-savvy equivalent) and it’s paying off, but oh how I long to be able to wax lyrically and free using my own words.

New stylesheet, new danger

You may have noticed that the home page and a few other internal pages have received a bit of a makeover recently. Chief Suspect does like to keep the site sexy and funky, so a number of changes have been implemented that will soon filter their way down to the other pages. This has been a bit of a labour of love because getting a site together that looks the same in pretty much any modern browser is still a complex task. Most of you fine folks are tipping your hats to Mr Microsoft-Gates, yet have yet to upgrade to the latest Internet Explorer Version 7, so we do have to keep things sexy for the 90% of customers whilst still keeping within the latest rules. Many thanks to all those unsung heroes on the various forums that aim to help the ambitious amateur such as myself. I hope you like the new togs – if your particular set up renders the experience painful, please do let us know via the contact page.

Barenaked Full Frontal Assault

Chief Suspect took a break from his from dastardly deeds on Wednesday and travelled to the frozen north (well, Bristol) to attend a gig hosted by those lovely people, Barenaked Ladies. Much fun and hilarity ensued, particularly when the band performed Angry People and treated us to a dance break in truest “boy band” mould. But of course, you wouldn’t expect BnL to fit into that stereotype, as this version of the “dance” shows…

Probably made even more hilarious by the fact that the drummer bears a striking resemblance to Murder to Measure stalwart Quintin – in Bristol he even had one of Q’s shirts on.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

One of the joys, well I think it’s a joy, of performing within spitting distance of the audience is that you could easily, er, spit at them. Not that we actually do spit at them of course, but my point is that such intimacy with the audience does mean that several senses other than the visual and auditory come into play.

Perhaps first amongst these is smell, and our performers do have to think about the character and what perfume or deodorant they would be wearing. Whilst it wouldn’t be pleasant for dining guests to have a truly odious smelling person in their vicinity, the well-known smell of an expensive perfume may be completely inappropriate.

I don’t recall any instance where we have had to taste a punter, but there can certainly be physical contact for the members of the audience who are playing along – and of course ours is one theatrical experience where you are actively encouraged to talk to the performers.

When you’re that close it’s a lot harder to fake things that on stage are done with lighting and make-up etc. Whilst everyone knows this it’s all an act, someone playing a character who is older or younger than their actual selves does tend to stick out – and sometimes can lead to all manner of complicated theories about their true identity. Similarly, someone playing two different characters has to be handled carefully, as even with the cleverest disguise and accents, the audience will know eventually.

It’s very hard work remaining in character for 3 hours plus, so, the sweat is real, and the tears have to be real. Fortunately we have a host of performers who can turn on the waterworks at the touch of a button… be very wary if you’re playing a character whose significant other is one of these blubbers…

The blood, of course, isn’t usually real – real blood rarely looks as people expect it to. There have been occasions when Chief Suspect has injured himself by accident and thought “hmm, that would look great on the murder weapon”, only to find that a supply of the old fake goo was required to make it look real. Hitchcock, after all, did use chocolate sauce for the blood in the Psycho shower scene.

Murder Mystery theatre – as in your face as you can get…

Online competition

Keep your wits about you, Constant Reader, because many aspects of the Murder to Measure online competition are gradually wheeling their way into the starting blocks on this site, and if you are observant you might well steel the march on the newcomers and win yourself a fully personalised murder mystery event – for free.
You need to be uncovering the murder weapon, the name of the victim, where he or she was killed, the motive and finally the perpetrator of the crime – with several stop-offs along the way. Unravelling the mystery will not be easy, but the winner will get my undivided attention, and that is worth more Brownie Points than you could imagine. Eyes peeled from here on in folks – it will be a bumpy ride.