Arts Reviews

Murder For Two @ Theatre Royal

With plenty of energy to keep you on their toes, this comedy duo didn’t fail to keep a smile on their audience’s faces from start to finish.

The “hysterical blend of music, mayhem and murder” of a musical follows two actors who play 13 characters between the two of them, who, in a ‘whodunit’ style, attempt to solve the crime of a murder. Just think ‘Agatha Christie’ style plotlines but with a wacky twist.

“a drama automatically became a comedy”

To open the musical, the two actors, (Paul Taylor-Mills and Luke Sheppard) also talented pianists (a piano as the main onstage piece of set) used a combination of mime and pantomime like gestures and facial expressions to capture the audience’s attention: a drama automatically became a comedy. Every line was either sung or spoken with a musical quality: their voices so high pitched it almost became melodramatic. As the actors attempted to play the different characters, they used a varied vocal range; a combination of assorted accents and pitches to make it plausible to the audience that they were playing different people. The best interpretation perhaps was of the character Mrs Whitney, by which the actor comically pretended to be a woman. He indicated this by skipping and tip toeing around the stage with a bubbliness about him.

It was hard to criticise this performance, especially considering when the actors occasionally forgot their lines they joked about it with the audience and smoothly moved past it as though the mistakes never happened. They also proved their compatibility and understanding of each other as partners by saving each other from possible embarrassment as this occurred, making light of the situation without getting flustered.

“This breaking of the fourth wall made the atmosphere a lot more immersive”

There were two moments in particular that stuck out for me, the first being when the actor playing the detective held up a cane in one hand and a bowler hat above it to create an imaginary female character, ‘Barb’. The actor playing all of the other characters (including Mrs Whitney) would then speak her lines as the detective moved the hat up and down to show this. This provided the audience with a great amount of entertainment as we admired them for their success in this portrayal. The second was when an audience member up was invited on stage to fill in for the imaginary role of the doctor. This breaking of the fourth wall made the atmosphere a lot more immersive, allowing the audience to feel as though they were involved in the performance: we became even fonder of the characters. I can’t lie though, I was slightly ducking down in my chair at this point, acting as though I was deep in thought writing my review so I wouldn’t be chosen!

The range of lighting made the performance more eye catching, as glowing lights lined the stage as well as dark blue lighting that was used to dramatise the more severe moments in the play- particularly with the revelation of the murderer.

“This show was a joy to see”

Overall, this show was a joy to see. It was cleanly executed and well-polished with great intimacy between the actors. The amount of creativity and imagination put into this performance left it to be a highly enjoyable evening.


Olivia Morel

Featured Image courtesy of Olivia Morel.

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