CLUEDUNNIT: Murder at the Manor, Stamford Plaza Melbourne – Theatre Experience Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have never played the board game Cluedo. A murder mystery game that was originally devised back in 1943, it has been a favourite of many for over 70 years.

There are several other ‘whodunit’ themed mediums out there, including the famous stage play ‘The Mouse Trap’ and several other Agatha Christie novels and films inspired by her writing and classic murder mystery tales. But have you ever attended a dinner party where the murder happens around you and it is on you, and your fellow diners, to solve the mystery? Well, I certainly have not!

So, when I caught wind of a new dining experience titled CLUEDUNNIT, I was excited to put on my detective hat to solve the mystery at a themed dinner party – Murder at the Manor.

Hosted at Melbourne’s Stamford Plaza Hotel, Murder at the Manor is a 1920s inspired murder mystery dining experience.  Not knowing what to expect and having nothing in my wardrobe that resembled anything close to the 1920s, I put on my best slacks, shirt and suit jacket and hoped for the best. It wasn’t long after my partner and I took our seats that we quickly realised how underdressed we felt. The invitation did say to dress for the occasion and most of the outfits were absolutely incredible. If you had walked in off the street not knowing what was happening, you could easily have thought you had travelled back in time.

The room was packed with easily over 100 guests, all dressed to impress and ready to become the best detectives they can be. As we entered what was to be known as the Pokeingham Estate, on each of the tables was a final will and testament from the late Lady Rose Stimper. Having made the village her home for almost seventy years, she has bequeathed the villagers with £30,000 and we, the villagers, were to decide how best to spend the money.

Lord Ruffley Pokeingham and Lady Florence Pokeingham were excited to welcome us to their estate. Also, in attendance were some of the locals including Reverend Cecil Smeeton the Vicar, Gino Vincenzi the Local Hotelier of Italian extract, Kate Rimehill the Maid, Harry Clott the Gardener, and Jonathon Mapletree the famous Crime Writer. As we waited for the dining experience to begin, it was announced that there was a murder and one of the characters was not going to join us. We were encouraged to ask questions of the remaining characters and forge a theory as to who murdered them, why and by what means.

Whilst other experiences are more a theatrical and happen around you, CLUEDUNNIT is highly interactive. Essentially, if you don’t interact, how can you forge a theory as to whodunnit? It is not only encouraged but also very necessary and I had so much fun doing so!

My favourite interactions would have to have been with Gino Vincenzi portrayed by Mark Trenwith and his ridiculous Italian accent. His character was hilarious and even had our table theorising that he wasn’t really Italian, and it became a running joke for the whole night. Amber Scates as Kate Rimehill, Fiona MacDonald as Lady Pokeingham and Ben McCarthy as Harry Clott are also all fantastic in their respective roles, however another stand out would have to be Rob Lloyd as Rev. Cecil Smeeton. Lloyd’s portrayal of this character had me in absolute stiches, especially his moment about wanting the bequeathment funds to fix his organ because nobody would play with it. And of course, Eden Trebilco as Mapletree did an excellent job as not only his character, but the host for the evening, naturally and charismatically keeping things moving along.

What makes each of these performances even better is that, aside from a general guideline plot that the cast need to follow, the entire show is completely improvised. All their lines and interactions are built completely from the conversations each table has with them. This not only makes for an impressive performance, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun for each of the actors involved and the patrons that interact with them, and aside from the inevitable unveiling at the end, no two shows are ever alike.

CLUEDUNNIT is unlike anything I have seen before, and I had the best time digging for the truth with my fellow murder mystery solvers on my table. Criticism wise, the food was fine at our Stamford Plaza Melbourne location, but the music playing in the dining space was far too loud. It was already noisy enough with everyone discussing and theorising who the murderer was but there was no need for an additional audio source to make it even louder. If anything, it made it hard to hear the characters across the table. Other than that, it was a wonderful experience and I hope to attend their next themed murder mystery when it comes about.

If, like me, you’ve never played Cluedo before, it doesn’t matter as you’ll still have the best time. It was so much fun working up theories with fellow detectives at my table, no matter how far-fetched or crazy complex our theories were, and we relished together when some of them turned out to be right!

CLUEDUNNIT’s Murder at the Manor is a clever, fun interactive theatrical dining experience that I highly recommend. Even though I admittedly felt severely underdressed at times, solving murder mysteries with fellow gumshoes was so exciting and I still had an absolute blast.

ClLUEDUNNIT have one more Murder at the Manor experience in Melbourne on the 14th of June 2024 and a new show titled Murder to a Tee on the 15th of June, both of which will be held at the same location, Stamford Plaza Melbourne. Now, if you’re not in Melbourne, don’t fret, as the CLUEDUNNIT team have a range of experiences across Australia available for you to attend.

For more information including dates, locations and ticketing, visit:
https://www.cluedunnit.com.au

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