A Killer Party Review – Jason Manford presents a joyful and melodious murder mystery | The comedy
BMisspool impresario Varthur McArthur has a crazy idea for a new show, a circus / marine ghost subtitled Death on the High Seas Trapeze. He assembles his cast for dinner and – a power cut later – ends up dying, his face planted in a bowl of soup. Oh the irony! But that grim twist is just an appetizer at A Killer Party, a home-viewing gay camp murder mystery musical that made waves in the United States last year. Recorded by an isolated cast and ingeniously put together in the British production of Benji Sperring, it is (judging by the first three of the nine episodes) absurd, barely coherent, presumably silly, and undeniably hummable.
Musical moments are the most memorable. The opening episode is just song, as we meet ex-sleuth Justine Case (Harriet Thorpe) writing her memoir (that’s the framing device out of the way) and then the track master. by Jason Manford, Varthur, presenting his concept and motley creative team. “It’s my murderous night, and I’ve never felt so alive,” he sings – those famous last words, in the end. But who – as a traffic guard turned cop Justine must now discover – the dunnit? Nominative determinists could become the main actor George Murderer (Cedric Neal). But watched diva Vivika Orsonwelles (Debbie Kurup) has a pattern, and Shea Crescendo (Oscar Conlon-Morrey) – designer and trapeze artist, for whatever reason – was heard bickering with Varthur on the eve of the murder.
Even though the production celebrates its own low-budget ridiculousness, it’s impressive how the choir numbers come together, the isolated performers interact, and the playful visual effects continue to complement the number of jokes. The non-singing moments soon fade, there’s no suspense you could want in a thriller, and the euphoria of live musical theater is beyond A Killer Party’s reach. However, everything is redeemed by the pop score of Jason Howland, the skillful lyrics of Nathan Tysen (I liked Shea’s trapeze ballad: “I hold on to the day I was told I had to let go…”) and pleasantly archive the performances all around.
If you can’t stand the wait for those real-world West End musicals looming on the horizon, A Killer Party might be your ticket.