Review: Murder She Didn’t Write

Murder She Didnt Write

It is something of a hackneyed cliché for all reviews of shows like this to begin with the preface “improvised shows are very hard to review” – but the fact remains, this is indeed true.

The performers are entirely at the whim of the audience suggestions and, whilst a few other improv troupes have now taken to accepting a few different suggestions and letting the audience decide en-masse, simply choosing one card out of a box and going with it, no matter what it says, is always going to make for a hit & miss endeavour.

On this occasion, the randomly selected title for this soon-to-be entirely improvised murder mystery was ‘The Case Of The Carbonised Edinburgh Tram”. At first, this seems like fairly decent fodder and the audience seem content that they struck it lucky, however, thanks to every comedian in the world coming to Edinburgh in the last 3 or 4 years and trotting out every possible permutation of ‘no-one wanted the trams’, ‘when will they ever arrive’, which came first, the chicken or the beginning of the tram works’ etc etc etc the subject now just has something of a done-to-death-ness about it. This is by no means the fault of the cast though and they try to deal with it as best they can.

The basic premise of what Degrees Of Error are trying to do is sound enough. Each performer is dressed in a specific colour and has a name which corresponds to the same – à la Cluedo. This would serve to make each character very clearly defined were it not for the actors frequently muddling up Blue/Grey and Grass/Green.

As is almost always the case with improv troupes, there are distinctly varied levels of quickwittedness amongst the cast. So long as one of the more confident improvisers was on stage (Messrs Gold and Violet in particular) the plot manages to drive itself forward relatively well.

However, on the rare occasions that we are presented with solely Lady Grey/Blue and Lord Grass/Green, it quickly descends into awkwardness with each performer almost begging the other to advance the story so they don’t have to.

This comes to something of a head in the final ‘reveal’ scene wherein Lord Grass/Green has descended so far into mugging to the audience and desperate upstaging, without even assisting with the story, that the Inspector character actually ASKED HIM TO LEAVE THE SCENE. This may have been played off as ‘tongue in cheek’ but in actual fact was a nothing less than an almighty relief.

Credit is definitely due to the majority of the cast for putting together a relatively intricate and engaging mystery, however, and there are plenty of laughs to be had too. While this is certainly not the best improv troupe you will see at this year’s Fringe, it is by no means the worst either.

If you find yourself in the Grassmarket with an hour to spare, give them a look. Murder She Didn’t Write by Degrees Of Error.
3 stars

Sweet Grassmarket, Apex City Hotel (Venue 18)
18:15pm until August 25th

Buy Tickets Here

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