Saturday 3rd December found us heading for The Garden Café, St Ann’s Well Gardens, Hove, for our third and final live production of 2011 – Ding Dong Merrily and Die.
The café Christmas tree was decorated, there was a wintry chill in the air and we were ready for the fun to begin.
Our theme for this production was pantomime (oh, no it wasn’t – oh yes it was!)
Our cast, Emma Ryan as Inspector Philippa Closely, Cathy Robinson as Private Detective Ann Zupp and Dade Freeman as Widow Spanky, were looking forward to entertaining thirty guests with an evening of murder, mystery and intrigue.
Right on time, at 7pm the first guests started to arrive. We always encourage guests to come in costume so we were looking forward to seeing what the panto theme had to offer. Within half an hour, the café was buzzing with the sound of three Santas, two Mrs Claus, several reindeer, a Puss-in-Boots, an Aladdin, another panto dame and lots of sparkle-clad guests playing the icebreaker game – Christmas Bingo.
When everyone had arrived, Widow Spanky got proceedings underway by giving the official welcome speech – mainly as a distraction while Emma and Cathy rushed off to change into their alter egos for the evening.
Once the representation of the crime scene, complete with “body”, had been examined (and poked!) by everyone, it was time to sit down, start enjoying the café’s delicious three-course meal and play detective.
Throughout the evening, clues were revealed in various formats – police reports, witness statements, acted scenes, physical objects. Some were useful. Some were red herrings. It was up to the guests to work out which were which and decide who could feasibly have murdered the poor victim – they were looking for the murderer, the method and the motive. The Three Ms of good detective work!
Inspector Closely and Private Detective Ann Zupp made sure that everyone heard, read or was otherwise informed of anything they might have missed, so that all the guests had an equal chance of winning.
Before we knew it, the accusations were in and we were checking to see if anyone had actually managed to get it right.
While we were deliberating, Widow Spanky kept the group entertained with a couple of groan-inducing jokes and the Politically Correct Rudolph story, a 21st century variation on the well-loved tale.
Shortly after the last mouthfuls of dessert had been washed down with some more wine, the murderer was revealed and the winner was announced. Well done “Simon Callow”! Your incessant questioning of the cast truly paid off!
We would like to thank The Garden Café for hosting the evening, the staff for providing the guests with delicious food, and the guests for throwing themselves into the evening with such enthusiasm. We had a great time, and we hope you did.