The murder was announced early Monday and took place Thursday evening shortly after 8 o’clock. This being a widely anticipated event, the Green Room of the theater was packed to bursting. It was difficult to move an elbow, let alone shake a fist. Most people resorted to the incessant nodding that is customary when no one can hear a word of what is being said.
The management had made the unfortunate choice of providing wine and cheese. The wine was not so much the issue, most participants were in some state of inebriation and had been for quite a while — however, the smell of cheese hung heavily in the air, mingling with the scent of sweat and alcohol.
But excitement buzzed around the room. It was the fourth day of “Freshers Week” at Trinity College. Trinity is the oldest university in Ireland and has a long history of artistic achievement and intellectualism. This being a college, it also has a long history of undergraduate drinking. Freshers Week, the first week of term, is notoriously a week-long party. Societies and clubs offer much of the social life at Trinity; events hosted during Fresher’s Week included a debate on the existence of God (the Historical Society), a four hour pub crawl (the Philosophical Society) and over a dozen club/bar nights hosted all over Dublin. That Thursday, I was attending The X Factor Murder Mystery Night hosted by Players, Trinity’s drama society.
For those of you unfamiliar with Murder Mysteries, it’s like a real life version of “Clue.” The audience shows up and is introduced to a cast of characters, one of whom will shortly expire due to some form of violent death. The audience’s job is to subtly interrogate the other characters in order to ascertain the murderer, the method and the motive. The actors are provided with an assortment of clues, which they can relay to the audience in the course of a conversation.
Tonight’s mystery was “X Factor” themed. “The X Factor” is pretty much the British “American Idol” (it was in fact started by Simon Cowell). It features highly-strung divas, snarky judges and the occasional genuine musical talent.
The audience was crowded into the Player’s theater. Smoke hung in the air, obscuring the characters on stage. The smoke was illuminated by colored lights giving an louche night-club feel to the room.
We were introduced in turn to all of the characters for the evening. Simon Perforated-Bowel, the founder of “X Factor,” Fidel Castro, the Nice Guy and a double act named Tall & Horny (both of whom had giant bananas stuffed into their pants). Also in the house were the Foreign One, Jedward and the Girls From Louth, who vaguely resembled the stereotype of hillbillies in their love of Supermacs, missing teeth, foul language and teenage pregnancy. There was a brief appearance by a zombie Amy Winehouse who climbed out of a coffin to give a splendid rendition of “They tried to make me to go to rehab and I said … brains … brains … brains.”
After the Nice Guy was taken out by a falling spotlight, the audience was released into the theater to interrogate the suspects.
Having been part of various “interactive” theatrical events, I was very impressed by the Players cast. They were consistently hilarious and maintained their characters perfectly, though as the night progressed accents began to slip as drink levels dropped.
We were even treated to what almost became a knockout fight between two members of the Girls from Louth, aka the Pregnant One and the Ginger One. As is usual with this sort of thing, my group of friends wandered happily for an hour questioning the subjects. After that, having received a number of confusing and conflicting clues about MI6 agents, false pregnancies, mistaken identities and hypnosis we gave up and let the experts get on with it.
In the end it was revealed that the killer had in fact been the Foreign One, who was none other than Gaddafi, the former president of Egypt and lead guitarist in Totally Tarianism. My friend turned to me, as the audience spontaneously burst into cheers, and raised an eyebrow “This is Ireland?” She whispered to me.
I shrugged back. Vive la vie absurde.
Image source: Meghna Dholakia, Daily Cal