Murder Village: An Improvised Whodunnit {Melbourne International Comedy Festival}- Comedy Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Melbournians have worked hard over the last 12 months. Seeing the city alive and buzzing again, with Comedy Festival spruikers lining the streets, socially distanced queues out the door of venues and the ticket office was a sight that brought a huge smile to my face. I was equally excited to turn that smile into laughter at the Butterfly Club for an improvised murder mystery performance as part of the 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival known as; Murder Village: An Improvised Whodunnit.

Set in era of a classic 1950s Agatha Christie novel, this murder mystery takes place in a quaint little town know as, Murder Village. As the name suggests, murder is a regular occurrence. It is up to the local Detective Inspector Own Gullet (David Massingham) to solve the mystery, accompanied with the aid of Super Sleuth Monsieur Aragon Pewter (Lliam Amor), they set out to uncover a crime most foul.

Like other improvised shows I have seen in the past, Murder Village requires the input from those in attendance. This particular show has a QR Code that is scanned upon entry with a form you can complete whilst having a refreshing drink at the bar. You are asked to provide who you wish to be killed, who you think ‘did it’, the murder weapon and a key piece of evidence that links it all together. These inputs are then pulled at random to create the plot for each show. For the performance I attended, the victim was the School Headmaster (Cameron Neill), murdered by the new teacher Marigold Peach (Brianna Williams) with a horse shoe and the key piece of evidence being an A+ Mathematical Paper.

Improvised comedy takes a special breed of performer to execute, and it is safe to say that the cast of Murder Village have this talent down pat. To not only stay in character but to remember key points and quips from other performers to create their own comedic lines is a wonderous sight to witness. One of the funnier moments for me was their nod to their shows run at the festival that, “Here in Murder Village, Murder happens every day, sometimes ten days straight, sometimes even twice a day”.

Every cast member of Murder Village has incredible natural comic timing that cannot be taught. Personally, I felt Jason Geary as the neurotic 12th Man of the cricket team was fantastic. His nervous aura and voice-breaking persona could not have been easy to maintain for the entirety of the performance. His clever usage of props that don’t exist even had me believing he was actually holding the object.

One of the best things about these improvised shows is that none are alike. Last comedy festival in 2019, I found myself attending improvised shows more than once. It is safe to say that I would love to return to the quaint little Butterfly Club for another round of Murder. I highly suggest you snap up a ticket before they are all gone!

Murder Village: An Improvised Whodunnit is a hilariously clever experience where you will feel both part of the detective team and an accomplice at the same time. The show is performing now at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Performances are every day up until Thursday 1st April. Tickets are available from the Comedy Festival website, the Butterfly Club website, or on the door. But be wary, tickets are limited due to capacity of the venue, so don’t hesitate!

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Photography by Mark Gambino.

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