Three words in a press release that strike despondency in the heart of your correspondent are ‘Comedy Murder Mystery’. There are so many ways it could be dreadful. Add the word ‘Musical’ and I can barely raise a grimace. But needs must, and when you’re wandering round that graveyard of vanity projects called the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, you’ll do anything to get out of the rain.
And so I find myself in a small room somewhere in the bowels of the Radisson Blu hotel on the Royal Mile, converted for the festivities into a black box with lights, watching Northern Corner give There’s No Mystery In Murder. It’s billed as a comedy murder mystery musical, and, be still my beating heart, that’s exactly what it is.
Murder has come to the little Yorkshire town of Rothersdale, where a local councillor has been found dead. He hadn’t endeared himself to the locals with his plan to build a big supermarket in the town, so there are lots of suspects. A crime beyond the scope of local Sergeant Tompkinson, a nervous Will Lambert, and his constable, PC Banks, a very determined Nia Tilley, they have summoned a Chief Inspector from Leeds, DCI Hilch, a man who has never failed to solve a case, a man for whom there is no mystery in murder, cue for a song, played smugly by Will Garrood.
The first person Hilch arrests is the dead man’s wife, Susan, played innocently by Katie Brier, but soon they find that everyone in the town has a motive. The locals are played in a series of very funny quick-change cameos by Lambert and Brier, and the denouement makes complete sense in the ‘oh, of course’ way it should in good crime fiction but so often doesn’t, and there’s even a delicious sting in the tale. And there was barely a moment I wasn’t laughing, even during the songs.
Written and directed by the aforesaid Lambert, the songs and music are by Danny Horn and the orchestration by Max Runham.
A hugely funny story, finely acted and sung, this is a gem that deserves a further life.
There’s No Mystery in Murder! is at the Edinburgh Fringe until August, 27, 2022. For more information, click here.