Leicester Square Theatre – 25 March, 29 April. Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Agatha Christie looms large over proceedings as Degrees of Error create an improvised murder mystery inspired by the audience’s (mostly filthy suggestions). Stephen Clements handles the crowd with charm as the investigating detective and spends most of the performance stifling giggles as he watches his fellow cast members wrangle suggestions and familiar mystery tropes into some semblance of a plot.
With the audience’s suggestion of a hen party, The Case of the Wet Tea Towel saw its West End debut. With set and costumes firmly embedded in the 1920s/30s, the cast’s idea of a hen party involved a sexually repressed chicken scientist’s pre-wedding party, crashed by her fiancé – no inflatable willies or strippers in sight.
The cast do not know who is the victim until they have had the chance to build up their characters, and they have no idea who the murderer is until the second half of the performance, which is full of backstory lunacy and revelations revealing each character’s possible motives. The big reveal isn’t the end of the show, with the unfortunate culprit having to re-enact the crime and try to remember all the clues they left.
The cast are talented and quick thinking, with Lizzy Skrzypiec excelling at throwing in some plot curveballs and innuendo. Clements interrupts occasionally to torture the actors with suggestions, with his insistence on hearing Mr Green’s poems about chickens producing a bizarrely brilliant ode to hens from Peter Baker. There are some storylines that fizzle out and a few jokes that don’t hit the mark, but the pace is fast and furious, and the cast have enough chemistry to land a big belly laugh immediately after any ill-judged decisions.
How any of the cast keep track of what was going on in this ridiculous show is a mystery in itself, and their slick and funny corrections and reminders to each other of plot points has the feel of The Play That Goes Wrong. Murder, mirth and madness are guaranteed – the perfect show for armchair detectives