Murder, She Didn't Write

Wed 24th – Thu 25th July 2013

reviews

Anwen Jones

at 12:40 on 9th Aug 2013

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Improvisational drama is one of my favourite genres to watch in the theatre. A bold statement, yes, but one which companies like Degrees of Error prove to be completely justified.

Having recognised a few faces of the cast as those from 'Word:Play' which was performed last year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, any worries I may have had for the success of the show were pushed aside as I sat back, scribbled down my preferred title for the show and nestled myself between strangers who were just as eager as me for the performance to begin.

Unfortunately, my suggestion of The Case of the Disappearing Walrus was not one of the many audience titles drawn from the hat (which was a shame - I was intrigued to see if one of the actors would take on the challenge of becoming an aloof long-toothed mammal), although the narrator-cum-detective dealt with other nonsensical submissions with such ease, going into impressive detail on cases like The Case of the Forgotten Walnut much to the audience's delight. Finally, a title was selected for the evening's performance and we were invited to watch the intriguing, the dangerous, the horrifying tale of...The Case of the Stolen Ikea Pencils.

Immediately, the audience, and indeed the actors themselves, were transported to a large manor house where guests of the well-known Swedish ambassador Johann Ikea are greeted by his beautiful daughter Isabella, fresh out of finishing school. We were introduced to a number of eccentric but wonderful characters; a gruff, wonky-walking army general with a twiddly moustache, an odd, hippy-like art scholar whose voice is so feathery it appears she could faint at any moment, and a somewhat slimy home secretary who is unable to pronounce the United Kingdom of Great Britain correctly. Everything is hilarious and light-hearted until, suddenly, dear Johann is found murdered by poison in his study, his much coveted stash of Ikea pencils stolen from his drawer...

What ensues is a compelling game of real-life Cluedo, the audience racing against the detective to discover who killed Mr Ikea and, almost more importantly, stole those damn pencils. The cast attack the idea with such energy and innovative thinking, gelling perfectly with one another, that at times it's easy to forget that they follow no script whatsoever. Indeed, they engage wonderfully with the audience, returning to previous jokes and slip ups with such ease that some lines of dialogue were difficult to hear over the roars of laughter from those watching. Indeed, at times the reactions between characters were incredibly touching, blending seamlessly in with the jokes and humour to demonstrate the real talent of the company; these people are not just comics, but truly fantastic actors.

I was impressed with every single actor on that stage but I cannot help but mention my extreme admiration of Caitlin Campbell's performance as Miss Isabella Ikea; understated, quiet but insanely quick-witted, she came out with the most hilarious comments and jibes, picking up easily on her cast members lines and character references. She is, without doubt, one to watch.

All in all, it was a fantastic way to spend an evening. I was so relaxed and fully engaged with what was happening on stage that I even let my normally controlled cackle escape from my throat...and I didn't even care. That's how good Degrees of Error are. And I have no doubt that similar unrestrained bursts of enjoyment will envelope the stage when they perform at the Edinburgh Fringe this August. Go and see them, if only to see how they can change a ridiculous title suggestion into a show full of excitement, enthusiasm and enigmas.

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