Creator: Play Dead London
The latest whodunit by Play Dead London has a few things going for it. The first is the fact, unlike many other similar formats, including the new Sherlock Holmes whodunit by Les Enfants Terribles, all the characters are live actors, rather than recordings. The second positive is that it’s only an hour long. However, Shake, Rattle and Roasted never really shakes or rattles at all.
In fact, this whodunit is all about roasting, as players assembled in Play Dead’s Zoom room question and grill the four suspects for a Prom Queen’s murder. Gloria has been found dead in the dunk pool at the local county fair in Magnolia, Illinois. Some cut cables were thrown into the water leading to Gloria’s fatal electrocution. We join proceedings as Sherriff Slaughter puts the suspects in the cells.
Using Break Out Rooms, and one laborious sequence where each player gets to ask one question, players try to piece together the events leading up to Gloria’s death. Was it Troy, her boyfriend? Was it Betty, Troy’s sister, who has taken a job at the fair? Was it Addison, who runs the school newspaper? Or was it Judy, who wants to run for school president? There may only be four suspects, but without attention it’s easy to confuse them.
It’s all quite jolly, and other players seem committed and eager, but the game lacks variation. It consists of little more than three rounds of questioning, and the story progresses no further. No new evidence comes to light. No new suspect makes themself known. There are a few documents that we are invited to study, but this whodunit is more about question-and-answer than it is about visual or forensic clues.
The six actors – there is Deputy Margie, too – play their roles with relish, and they are sure to provide us with all the information we need even if we ask the wrong questions. Accents don’t always sound as if they are from the Midwest, but this is part of the show’s charm, along with the black-and-white filters the cast use to make us feel as if we are back in the 1950s.
It makes for a diverting hour, but there is little excitement here as the players arrive too late in the story, and then that story never moves on. But full marks to the team for making this a swift experience.
Runs here until 31 March 2021