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Review: A KILLER PARTY, Stream.Theatre

Online murder mystery boasts a killer cast

Review: A KILLER PARTY, Stream.Theatre

Review: A KILLER PARTY, Stream.Theatre We've certainly come a long way in the "theatre filmed from individual homes" genre of online shows. After a hit debut in the US last year, the musical comedy web series A Killer Party has been adapted for UK audiences featuring an all-star cast, with every comical moment milked to the max under Benji Sperring's direction.

Failed West End actor and artistic director of Blackpool's smallest regional theatre, Varthur McArthur (Jason Manford), gathers his circle of creatives to a dinner party to read through his newest murder-mystery play. Unfortunately, disaster strikes before the starter is even out of the way. It is up to police officer-turned-detective, Justine Case (Emma Salve), to interrogate the individual guests and find the murderer.

The premise of "isolating" each suspect in different rooms for questioning makes excellent cover for the way the piece was filmed in the individuals' homes - and with clever use of neutral backgrounds, the impression of two individuals being in the same room is mostly achieved. All credit on that front is owed to Zahra Mansouri's design and cinematography by Click Boom Studios.

Salve is charming and endearing as the newly promoted detective. With plenty of self-aware humour, she steals many scenes as she goes from room to room.

Rachel Tucker delivers a hilarious performance as Joan McArthur, delivering what is certainly the first musical number I've ever heard featuring ASMR - a niche corner of the internet specialising in "relaxing sounds", for those unaware of the concept.

Manford is full of pomp and bravado, until his performance is cut short in its prime. Amara Okereke effortlessly and adorably jumps between musical styles as the leading lady, Lily Wright. Cedric Neal and Debbie Kurup (pictured above) revel in their duet "Never Miss My Mark". Oscar Conlon-Morrey does not disappoint with a highly comical and elegantly sung performance as the show's scenic designer. Ben Forster also makes a particularly funny appearance - but I won't spoil the premise.

The 90-minute series is split into short episodes, each containing a couple of numbers. This feels clunky when watching them all at once, but for those just wanting to dip in, the scenes are cut in the right place and the writing (book by Rachel Axler and Kait Kerrigan) ensures that the format of moving through different rooms to meet different characters doesn't become overly repetitive. Some performances feel a little over the top, which leads to a loss of momentum in certain scenes: easily done when you're not in the same room as your scene partner. Clever use of stop motion footage around a scale-set model is a nice touch for moving around the crime scene.

Jason Howland's music and Nathan Tysen's lyrics span multiple musical genres, with a fair few '80s pop ballads in tow. The pre-recorded singing is occasionally obvious in places but it was a good call to capture performances this way to to ensure a tight ensemble when the cast are singing together.

Maybe one day we'll be able to have murder mystery parties again. Until then, if you fancy a giggle and a whodunnit, check out A Killer Party.

A Killer Party available online until 30 May

Photo credit: A Killer Party UK

From This Author - Fiona Scott

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