‘The Murdér Express: Jewel of the Empire’ review

Theatre, Interactive
3 out of 5 stars
The Murdér Express, 2019
© LAURENCE HOWE

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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This daft immersive murder mystery pastiche features a pretty good meal and some decent cocktails

The next in line of London’s endless stream of immersive-dining-slash-theatre experiences is ‘The Murdér Express’, from Funicular productions, who’ve done a couple of similar shows at this same address over the last year. Hop aboard a ‘train’ at the fictional Pedley Street Station in 1937 and you'll be taken straight to the French town of Murdér - that is, of course, if you make it there alive. Someone aboard the carriage has committed a crime and it's for you to help the detective uncover the mystery. 

There are elements of this production that really work and others that do not. The train and its 1930s decor are both rather fun and the cocktails at the bar are decent. Once you have been welcomed aboard your carriage by a busy body ticket inspector, you'll be full steam ahead for the four-course dining experience, created by ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’ winner Laurence Henry. Though it’s perhaps not the most adventurous of menus, it is a general crowdpleaser with chicken ballotine for the main and a ‘strawberry and white chocolate jewel’ for dessert (known to most of us as a ‘mousse’). 

The immersive theatre experience happens around you as you eat and drink and it’s very involved. In short, don’t expect to have a quiet meal here with your beloved, as you will be interrupted by the characters all night long. The show is also very, very slapstick. Your train is ‘moving’ for most of the duration and as such you'll have views out of the window of ’90s Clip art-style images whizzing past you at a rapid rate. It’s almost enough to make you queasy but not quite. Proper outdoor scenes of English and French countryside would have been more appropriate to bring that much-needed realness into the train carriage. 

Actors are pantomine-esque versions of the roles you would find in ‘Midsomer Murders’ or ‘Poirot’. The detective's hilarious French accent steals the show but for the most part, the play has no sincerity and I assume that was the intention. The plot is predictable and deliberate, forming around all the funny clichés of a murder mystery. It’s not deep, but it is an easy way to spend a few hours eating good food, drinking cocktails and having a laugh. 

By: Rosie Akenhead

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