Murder in Elsinore is, in the words of one critic, “A farce, a mystery…a game show, a drama and…a bit of reality theater.” It is an audience-participation murder mystery where the clues are not only set forth in the action but are scattered around the room and even in the program books. The four dreadful actors who make up the Vaguely Familiar Players go through a rehearsal of Hamlet under the indifferent guidance of cynical Director Uta Thwickett, as the owner-producer, Colleen Cibber, and the company’s Sound Artist “help.” Actors and crew bicker at each other relentlessly and remorselessly until one of the actors – foiled by a foil – falls over dead, for real. At that moment, Detective Deadly bursts into the room and arrests everyone, including the audience. After briefly examining the crime scene, Deadly marches the cast and crew offstage for an interrogation.

Between Acts I and II, the cast and crew return to the theater to answer questions from audience members. At the beginning of Act II, Deadly asks the audience for theories and observations. Then the Detective turns to each member of the cast and crew, revealing each one’s hidden secret in a way which suggests – but does not conclusively prove – that he or she is the murderer. Finally, Deadly leads them all off again for more questioning, and between acts audience members are invited to guess the killer’s identity and how and why the crime was done. With these “crime scene reports” in, the suspects return to the stage. The identity of the true killer is revealed, and after a struggle, the criminal confesses and is brought to justice. At the conclusion of the play, awards are given for the most correct and most imaginative crime scene reports.

Cast 9: 4 M, 5 F – but 5 of the roles could easily be cast in either gender. Three Acts; running time about 110 minutes.

 

last updated July 1, 2003.
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