ImmerCity’s lastest immersive murder mystery takes place in and around St Matthews Church in Bethnal Green. It’s 1955, and memories of the war still resonate. You’re present at the wedding of Jim Slice, son of East End gangster Micky, to Maud Sweetly, the daughter of feisty widow Cheryl. But Maud has failed to show up; and neither her twin sister, nor her cousin Bernie, can explain why. It’s left to the priest, Reverend Gris, to keep the two warring families from tearing each other apart.
The audience play in groups of six, with each following one of the actors around the church as they interacting with the other members of the cast. The story builds as you track your chosen character, and the mysteries deepen: why did Maud fail to show up to the wedding? What is Bernie’s curious connection to the family? What’s in the briefcase Micky is so desperate to conceal? And who, in a frantic scene in the organ loft, fatally stabs Reverend Gris?
It’s a site-specific performance, so not only is the setting relevant to the story, but the action takes place in a variety of locations specific to the church – the bell tower, the vestry, the cemetery outside. It’s an opportunity to see the usually hidden areas of this curious example of ecclesiastical makeover.
As is the form with all ImmerCity productions, after an hour of following the cast you reconvene in your group to share details of what you’ve seen and the conversations that have taken place. Each of you has only witnessed part of the story, and it’s up to you as a group to try to piece the events together and to try to make sense of the hidden narrative.
The final scenes have you visiting seven locations around the church, viewing historical photographs and interviewing each of the suspects – including the recently deceased Reverend Gris, whose sanctity is brought sharply into question. You have just five minutes to ask each suspect as many questions as you like, using a combination of flattery and threat to get them to give up their secrets. But they won’t help you: if you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get the right answers.
The mystery is brought to life through the ingenious scripting of Rosanna Mallinson, who’s also the director and producer. The show succeeds thanks to the uniformly strong cast, who remain solidly in character despite being surrounded by a gaggle of audience members – and whose ability to deflect accusations and hint at clues during the interrogation sessions underpins their deep understanding of the characters.
The Unholy Marriage of Slice and Sweetly is an entertaining, engrossing evening – a taut, clever thriller that will challenge your powers of deduction and interrogation. ImmerCity’s previous productions, Silhouette in the Smoke and Dead Quiet, are both to be revived for short runs later this year.