Festival Theatre, Malvern – Sunday 6th February 2022
Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau
Taking my seat I wondered if it was being given a bag of goodies on the way in that made it such a party atmosphere. You don’t, after all, go to many shows where much of the crowd gathers for group photos in front of the stage before the show has even begun. Like attending a house party with friends, just that one of them was Jessica Fletcher.
The aforementioned goodies were a placard (joyously low-tech) with our heroine Jessica on the front and “Fame!” on the reverse, a party popper, pink balloon and a raffle ticket. Intriguing. Were these clues to what lay ahead?
Our host, Tim Benzie, wasted no time – bursting on stage enacting the opening credits of Murder, She Wrote as it played on a large screen behind him. He set the scene, he set the tone of the evening and he set us off nicely for one fast and furious joy-ride back to Cabot Cove (and beyond) with an entire episode of Murder, She Wrote to enjoy. But, it turned out, to enjoy even more than usual!
Tim revelled in the quirkiness, (at times) questionable acting and ludicrous plot points. Without giving too much away, if you’ve ever found humour in the A-Team being locked up in a garage with some acetylene torches, scrap metal and farm machinery whilst 3 inept guards “guard” them by playing poker in a hut 200 yards away – you will understand the level of fun poking here.
There is plenty to enjoy whether you’re a fan of the show or not with a genuinely funny, very personable host who is an absolute pleasure to spend time with. Tim is no static host. He races around the stage from word go in a rather fetching Jessica Fletcher style wig. A couple more costume changes throughout the night complete the effect.
Tim’s solve-along show has everything: a quiz, prizes, some wonderful facts about the guest stars (including introductions to their other work which was truly hilarious! You will know what I’m referring to once you’ve seen this show).
Tim had us on our feet, singing, shouting out…. 100% engaged throughout. It was enormous fun looking out for the clues and suspicious activity and making our predictions regarding the killers identity. And Tim’s original material (did I mention a sing along?) is both thoroughly entertaining and knowingly clever!
If you have the slightest interest in Murder, She Wrote, classic TV, whodunnits, comedy, partying or just enjoying yourself you will laugh yourself silly during this show. This is a gently camp, fabulous celebration of a time when television gave us an hour of escapist entertainment rather than the need for trauma therapy which TV these days can often require.
Whodunnit? Tim dunnit – and he did it so well I can’t wait for the next one! A wonderfully guilty pleasure I will definitely see again and again, like the original show. In fact, I can feel a boxset purchase coming on.