Dancing in the dark
19 April 2019
Magic Hour is a trash-glam spectacle that's unashamedly proud of itself, says Lucy Thompson
Quick Duck Theatre’s interactive show in which the audience solve a sudden murder is glitzy and outrageous. The melodramatic chaos is deceptive; Magic Hour: The Murder Mystery Disco is incredibly well put-together, from its dance numbers to the shady interviews to the clues carefully littered about the space. If anyone wants a business card for Clive Ammunition, origami fitness expert, let me know.
There’s enough plotlines and red herrings to challenge the "undergraduate detectives" (that’s you, the audience) and enough widely varying characters and potential motives to remain entertaining every step of the way. Literally – you’re led around the building to meet the suspects.
How did I get here? The story is immediately so engrossing that you go along without a second thought, following the investigators through madcap interviews and clue-hunting. Then you take a step back and realise everyone is wearing glittery black veils and, cult-like, chanting prayers in memory of a fictional character. Or that you’re interrogating a piñata-repairer on his access to weaponry.
Without exception the actors do a stellar job. It’s not easy to constantly ad-lib, responding to rogue audience questions while also delivering important (incriminating) information. The ridiculousness of the characters only adds to the fun; do your sympathies lie with Cheetah Tofurkey, bereaved fiancée, or National Treasure Samantha de Pompidou, Sterling Dollair’s one true love? Besides this, seeing the stage full of drag kings and drag queens was just delightful. The show was fun and clever and utterly engaging.
Magic Hour’s interactive, inspector-led structure also means everyone’s experience is different depending on the group you’re in and who you work with. It creates a very personal feel. Interactive performances are often a bonding experience for the audience (cf. Trainspotting Live) but Magic Hour... takes this to another level, demanding conversation and co-operation among its audience to identify the killer.
Our experience of the murder mystery was particularly unique when it became an unexpectedly silent disco. It’s hard to give a standing ovation when you’re already on your feet (and outside, and cold) but the cast dealt exceptionally with the sudden al fresco plot twist. If anything it generated more rapport and goodwill, and a collective effort from performers, production team, and audience to ensure that the show could go on. There were phone torches, there was a portable speaker, there were dance numbers, and there were (attempted) human sacrifices.
It's murder on the dance floor
Stay calm, De Pompians
You'd better not kill the groove
The murderer is [NAME REDACTED]
DJ, gonna burn this god damn house right down
Fire alarm starts, we are herded into the garden
If you think you’re gettin' away
NO SUSPECTS MAY LEAVE THE PREMISES
I will prove you wrong
Time to test yourselves, undergraduate detectives
I'll take you all the way
Back to the past (future?) with the Magic Hour 5000
Boy, just come along
– Shots fired –
Hear me when I say (hey)
It's murder on the dance floor…
Photo credit: Beatrice Debney