People Show 121: The Detective Show’ is an entertaining and zany deconstruction of the murder mystery genre and theatre company People Show's one hundred and twenty-first show.
Established in 1966, the fringe's longest running alternative troupe are now masters of meta-theatrical japery. The egos of actors, fourth wall conventions and mime are all gleefully lampooned. It's a style that's undoubtedly aimed at those in the know. But this confident clowning is accessible for all – theatre aficionado or not.
We begin with actor Gareth Brierley apologising for divergences in what we're about to see from the copy on the flyer. A suspect has still been accused of murdering the woman he loves, an Agatha Christie tour guide, but in a deviation from the description, he no longer believes he's a fictional detective in a crime novel (an idea that got too complicated in the rehearsal room apparently).
In a plot that's as extraordinary as any Christie novel the three-person cast – including People Show co-founder Mark Long – swap roles in an artfully anarchic fashion. Clichés are mined and then wittily turned on their heads. Interrogations take place over Cluedo and hard-boiled detectives fall in love. It's all very silly and isn't breaking any new ground, but then it isn't trying to.
Things get quite surreal when Hercule Poirot – a deliciously fey Fiona Creese – appears, dancing. But the direct address and frank asides throughout ensure you're never left out of the fun.
By Honour Bayes