Review: Adam Riches - The Beakington Town Murders at Pleasance Courtyard

The Beakington Town Hall annual Christmas party ended in tragedy last night when ten tortoises were slaughtered in a tombola drum, under highly mysterious circumstances. Today, an emergency meeting of all attendees – aka the audience – has been called to try and piece together – as much as is now possible, given the state of the tortoises – what happened, and who was responsible.

Led by detective, and all-round hardman Victor Legit, this interactive whodunnit investigation is a typically ambitious project from Adam Riches. The first fifteen minutes or so make for a strong opening. Before the ‘official investigation’ begins, a brief interlude features a fantastic guest appearance from the physical embodiment of Tension – ‘you can’t have Christmas without it!’. Next, Victor Legit enters, hurling fun snaps on the floor, keen to emphasise that ‘there are no safe seats!’.

Once the interrogation begins and whole rows of the Town Council are hauled up onto the stage, repeated phrases such as ‘activate the arena’ and brash questioning, mostly in the form of ‘did you do it?!’, cement the atmosphere of tension in the room. After such a strong opening, it was genuinely disappointing that the interrogations became a bit formulaic in structure as the show went on.

Many of these tests and challenges were a lot of fun, and sometimes they were highly amusing, but there just wasn’t enough variation over the course of the hour and, despite the absurdist pleasure of the final test, the show seemed to peter out a bit towards the end. All in all, the premise was strong, but it definitely could have been taken in some more exciting directions as the investigation unfolded.

Adam Riches: The Beakington Town Hall Murders, Pleasance Courtyard, until 26th August, 7.50pm & 10.40pm

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