Death at Murder Manor: a script-free Agatha Christie mystery

BATS Theatre, Wellington

06/10/2010 - 07/10/2010

Production Details

Lord Reginald Murder has called a group of strangers to his manor for tea, cakes and a surprise announcement, but their refreshments are interrupted by the rudest guest of all… murder!

In Death at Murder Manor the Court Jesters create a classic English whodunnit that promises to be different every time. Will it be Reverend Smythe in the aquarium with the salad tongs? Or Colonel Frobisher in the dungeon with the miniature zeppelin?

It’s really up to you.

Wed 6 Oct, 8pm
Thur 7 Oct, 9.30pm

New Zealand Improv Festival 

Tuesday 5th – Saturday 9th October 2010
6.30pm, 8pm, 9.30pm 
$16 Full / $13 Concession / 3 Show Pass $40 and $30
1hr 5min

WIT Website 

The New Zealand Improv Festival is back for its third year – bigger, edgier, funnier, and ready to attack Wellington with awesome!

Bringing the very best improv companies in NZ together with stupendous international acts, the NZ Improv Festival is a comedic carnival, completely dedicated to making it up as we go along.

Crumbs (Canada) and returning 2009 performer Rebecca De Unamuno (Sydney) are joined by groups from across NZ to showcase the best of improvisational theatre for your entertainment. Get ready to change the way you see spontaneous…

Using nothing more than their wit and gumption these purveyors of on-the-spot creation will transfix you to the stage, all the while treading that highwire between genius and disaster. Even if it fails… it still succeeds!

Wellington Improvisation Troupe (Wgtn), The Improvisors (Wgtn), The Court Jesters (Chch), The Con Artists (Akld) Rebecca De Unamuno (Sydney) and Crumbs (Canada)

Book tickets! 

Brendon Bennetts
Andrew Todd
Matt Powell
Hamish Parkinson
Kathleen Burns
Emma Brittenden 

Artisic Director – Derek Flores
Producer – Merrilee McCoy
Musician – Robbie Ellis
Lighting – Darryn Woods
Publicist – Brianne Kerr   

1hr 5 mins, no interval

Stylish costumes and imaginatively devious

Review by Hannah Smith 07th Oct 2010

Christchurch Improv troupe The Court Jesters are a professional bunch. They are seasoned improvisers who got the skills to pay the bills and this is apparent in their offering for the NZ Improv Fest: Death at Murder Manor. 

Lord Reginald Murder has invited a disparate group of houseguests – each endowed with a trait selected by the audience, ranging from country of origin (Austria) to expensive hobby (Elephant Polo) – for a weekend on his remote and secluded island. They arrive to find their host mysteriously absent. One of his guests harbours a terrible secret, for Lord Reginald has been… MURDERED. 

An improvised whodunit ensues, featuring many of the hallmarks of the classic Agatha Christie detective tale: dodgy vicar, suspect American and some vapid young woman with highfalutin accents. The characters are all well formed and beautifully executed. The Court Jesters are a team of confident and able improvisers – not a weak link in sight.

In terms of style Death at Murder Manor is slick. The players create and maintain the arsenic-and-antimacassar world of Agatha Christie with pleasure and skill. The characterisations are aided by some beautiful costumes pieces. It is really nice to see some effort going into this aspect of production – all the other shows pretty well feature ‘colourful tops’ and jeans/pants. 

In places the story does seem to drag rather – the initial set piece of awkward silent boat ride over to the island is great, but there is an awful lot of set up where everyone trots from room to room to room (think Cluedo) thattakes ages to get going. 

I was also expecting a few more Agatha Christie style plotting devices: a Red Herring! Servants! Hilarious old lady/ high camp investigator of some kind!

However, despite dragging its feet a little, the story all came together at the end with a splendid denouement featuring some deviously imaginative work on the part of Andrew Todd. Case closed!
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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