Simone Eclair is a Brisbane comedian and writer. Weekly lols and gigs at www.facebook.com/simone.eclair
Monsters walk amongst us
The concept of a murder mystery is timeless. Despite this, there are many who associate its re-enactments with a generation past, an older generation's enjoyment of the core elements of playing games as adults. They don't know the joys of modern gaming, so this is the closest they'll ever get.
The board game Cluedo first came to exist back in 1950, the world still picking up the pieces after the second world war. It became a worldwide sensation to such an extent that in many ways, you could now be forgiven for thinking this was a relic of a bygone age. Not to the Brisbane Immersive Ensemble however, and thank goodness that was the case.
Immersive theatre is about taking that fourth wall between audience and performer and smashing it as though it had killed your first born. Whilst the digital world goes crazy for virtual reality, the theatrical equivalent has a satisfaction that reaches far beyond the uncanny valley. There is something exhilarating about engaging directly with a character as part of a performance. Particularly when that performance is so beautifully executed. Cluedo! The Interactive Game was such an example.
Setting the performance on the Kookaburra Queen and featuring a mind-blowingly talented live jazz band alone would be enough to have made this a performance to remember, but the combining that with the problem-solving mystery element was a stroke of genius. It meant that whether you wanted to dive head first into the crime-solving experience or watch the banks of Brisbane float by, you could enjoy the best of both worlds. The food may have been too minimal for my tastes and the bar queues longer than I'd have liked, but life is tough on the water.
Zane C Weber's performance as Colonel Mustard and Thomas Hooley's flamboyant Professor Plum both deserve particular shout outs for their thoroughly joyful interpretations of their characters. Singing along with Mustard in a rousing rendition of Beer Barrel Polka can only be described a near religious experience, while Thomas's cheeky Old King Tut would have caused many a monocle to drop in its day.
A special shout out should be made for the detectives who herded the drunken audience through their investigations in a way that was both informative and entertaining. Each detective brought their own unique characteristics to the proceedings in ways that complimented each other. Whether it was Steven Morgan's dry wit, James Elliott's roguish charm, Ashleigh Creeks's peaceful persuasion, Matthew Butler's world wisdom, Abbie Bryant's scholarly prowess or Michelle Hair (Rookie)'s naive enthusiasm, the chemistry between these cast members was electrifying. Considering this was the part of the show with the biggest variability, these were the true heroes of the night.
All in all, there was something for everyone in this performance, and the joy was clear from all those who'd helped bring the killer to justice. The pacing was just right, the progression felt natural, and the elements rewarded those who made the effort to immerse themselves.
My only real negative is that this performance will only be happening on two nights, which seems crazy considering the level of effort involved. This show is greater than the festival it contains, and more than deserves to become a staple of the Brisbane theatre scene. It represents the best of what theatre can be in this city and for that, we should all be grateful.