It’s the night before the opening of Die Another Dame, the James Bond-themed panto, at Gravestone Community Centre. Greg Gilbert, the show’s writer, director and star, has been found murdered: a huge glitter ball suspended above the stage collapsed onto his head, its supporting cable deliberately severed. Who among the cast and crew could have committed such a dastardly deed? It’s up to you, as the detective’s cohorts, to unravel the truth.
Detective Slaughter and his tech sidekick Festive Fred welcome you to the Zoom event, where you’re joined by the panto’s cast: the winsome and naive Ronny Russell, who plays the back end of a horse; the outrageously camp pantomime dame Justin Juggs, who’s frustrated by his meagre line count; the feisty Emily Easter, a leading lady with her sights on higher things; the rough diamond Mike Minton, who has financed the show; and the stressed-out Frankie Fletcher, health and safety officer and prop builder.
The audience split into small groups in Zoom’s breakout rooms, where you have two minutes to interview each of the five cast members. One of them is the murderer, but which one? The first interview may offer some clues, but then a group session in which more facts are revealed takes the mystery a step further.
After a further two minutes with each performer, you’re reunited once more and each audience member gets the opportunity to ask a single question of any one of the cast. After that, you’re on your own: you have just two minutes in which to write down the name of the murderer before the final piece of evidence reveals the true culprit.
It’s an entertaining way to spend an hour and a bit, and the cast perform with enthusiasm and invention as they react to whatever questions you throw at them.
The problem with the show’s format is that you never get a chance, as a sub-group, to discuss your findings. This means you very much come to your conclusion in a vacuum; it would have been great to have ten minutes where you could thrash out your ideas with your fellow detectives.
Written and directed by: Emma Crocombe
Produced by: Play Dead London
Die Another Dame is currently booking up to 31 January