REVIEW: Solve-A-Long-A-Murder-She-Wrote (Royal Vauxhall Tavern) ★★★★
Re-watching very old TV series is something that a lot of us really enjoy, but rarely ever sit down and do. Perhaps because we wonder if, in comparison to modern-day creations, it’s going to be a bit naff – after all, cameras and audio have come on a long way in the past few decades (and so, thankfully, has cinematography) and we may find ourselves losing patience with the old stuff. However, this isn’t necessarily true, as there’s something delightfully gratifying about putting on an old episode and reveling in ye olden days of television, especially if it happens to be a dramatic mystery from the iconic American series ‘Murder, She Wrote’.
To jog your memory (or enlighten it), this 1980’s creation was based around the mystery-solving prowess of novelist Jessica Fletcher (Dame Angela Lansbury), who possessed a heightened talent for detective work. Each episode had a number of guest stars, and suspicion is raised throughout the episode as to who of the many suspects it could be.
The premise of this show is simple yet effective. The audience is welcomed by our enigmatic creator and host, Tim Benzie, and he explains that we will be watching an episode of ‘Murder, She Wrote’, pausing every so often to vote on who we felt was taking the lead in the ‘guilty’ stakes, and with various chances for audience participation. Tim kept us very entertained with little-known facts about the show, pointing out very twee but amusing features in the filming and the cringe-worthy 80’s acting – viewing it through 20th century eyes adds a whole new dimension, especially with the shifts in culture that we now take for granted. The warm and welcoming Royal Vauxhall Tavern is an ideal setting for this kind of interactive show, with a great view of the stage from all angles and the bar closeby.
Speaking to Tim, he explains that he has been a fan of the show since it first aired in 1984, and wanted to celebrate this iconic part of pop culture in a unique and wonderfully camp format. The show is touring the UK and will soon be coming to Bath, Bristol and the Brighton Fringe.
‘Solve-A-Long-A-Murder-She-Wrote’ is light-hearted and delightfully entertaining, offering a highly nostalgic break from reality for a few hours and keeping television royalty alive. I’d challenge anyone to sit through this show and not get utterly invested in figuring out whodunit, whilst smiling at the comfort that this 80’s drama brings.
Reviewed by Laura Evans
FOLLOW WEST END WILMA