Locomotive for Murder: The Improvised Whodunnit
Locomotive for Murder: The Improvised Whodunnit

It is 1930s Britain and on the Lichfield to Bournemouth Express trouble is ahead.

This a murder mystery with audience participation, improvisation and a through narrative that depends on the cooperation and energy of the five-person cast to carry the action that is made up and altered as the story goes along.

Inspector Hugh Dunnit has four suspects – there is John Proctor, the Witch Doctor, Cat Smith, the Duchess of Lichfield, teacher Elizabeth Education and plumber Timmy Toilets. One of them will die, and Inspector Dunnit, with the audience’s help, has to solve the case.

Add in testimonials from other characters, a victim chosen by the audience and a randomly chosen murderer and there is plenty for the actors to think about.

The show flowed from idea to idea, and although there is always an underlying structure to any form of improvisation, many of the set pieces worked well.

We saw the collective letters that the four actors wrote – reading them out line by line – interweaving with each other to tell a completely new story.

Most of the heavy lifting was done by David Fenne as the Inspector, weaving information together in such a way as to make it amusing and intelligent.

After the murderer was revealed by the deductive powers of the audience, the post-death reconstruction of the relationship between all of the characters was also well performed and showed the improvisational and storytelling abilities of all of the cast members.

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