Ahead of their run at Edinburgh Fringe this year, Pinch Punch Improv bring their production of 'Locomotive for Murder' to Liverpool as part of Liverpool's Theatre Festival. Advertised as an 'improvised murder mystery', the cast invite audience members to participate in the action and put their detective hats on to solve the mystery.
Come rain or shine, the show must go on and this was pretty evident at this performance. Even with a torrential downpour of rain not willing to let up, this was not enough to dampen the spirits of both the audience and the cast. We were firstly introduced to Lottie Davies playing our detective 'Miss Marbles', who comes into the audience to interact, already setting the tone for the evening and creating a rapport to allow audience members to feel more at ease with their participation. Davies demonstrates throughout her talents as an improvisation actor, with quick thinking to divert the storyline and such likability that makes for such an enjoyable evening.
Questions are asked to the audience about their lifestyles or scenarios that they have been in to allow the other cast members to gauge what characters they will be playing. It was super interesting to watch the cast members at the side of the stage to begin thinking about their characters and bringing them to life by gathering their costumes and props.
The premise of the story is that the four characters based on the audience's suggestions, aboard a train to West Kirby (this was a hilarious locality joke for those local to Liverpool.) Will Benyon played the role of a football manager named 'Ryan Wrexham' (this came from a suggestion from myself as a claim to fame being that huge film star Ryan Reynolds is now the owner of my local football team.) Benyon had the absolute standout performance of the evening for me, bringing his character alive as a football manager that seems to know absolutely nothing about football, apart from the fact that he wants his players to be mindless. Benyon is naturally hilarious and has such a good knowledge of being able to improvise on the spot but still make a storyline out of it.
Peter Rugman plays self-proclaimed (tea-total) queen of party planners, hilariously named Marga-rita. Rugman demonstrates a masterclass in characterisation, as his character is later revealed as the murderer and he quickly adapts from the flamboyant and larger than life character to the evil and sinister murderer.
David Fenne plays our mindless but equally lovable 'Michael Midfielder' - a footballer part of Ryan Wrexham's team who is on a journey to see more of the world, and where more exotic to visit than West Kirby?! Fenne has such charisma and likability which instantly had the audience convinced of his innocence, and demonstrated admirable showmanship when faced with a plot twist revealing that the victim of the murder was Michael's father.
Beth Lily's character was Colonel Camping, an adventurer seeking the perfect photograph of himself at every destination that he ventured to. I personally felt that Lily had the most difficult character to portray as the scenario given did not give much to play around with. However, Lily was given opportunity to demonstrate her acting skills through the use of flashbacks which was lovely to see.
The audience were the decision-makers of discovering the fate of the tragically murdered character. The culprit was decided by chance, through the use of hidden cards that were randomly selected. This meant that only the actor with the 'culprit' card knew that they were in fact, the murderer. This gave good opportunity for the cast to fully demonstrate their incredible skills of improvisation, and through clever direction of the use of flashback and interview style scenes, there was good exploration of characters to allow the audience to gather their evidence. This was very enjoyable but I would have liked to have seen more plot twists in the story to make it slightly more captivating and engaging. Furthermore, a couple of jokes were repeated several times and it started to feel slightly weary after a while, I do however appreciate that the cast could only work with the suggestions that they were given.
With the excitement of knowing that no two shows would be the same , Locomotive for Murder truly is a show not to be missed. For more tickets and information, you can follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review