Adelaide Fringe 2011
Legendary crime writers Trevor Foyle, Dora Winslow, and Barti Cruikshank despair over the demise of the Golden Age of murder mystery fiction. After a heated debate with up-and-coming mystery writer Simon Vale, the three pioneers decide to create their own murder to revive interest in the classical style of murder. The victim is chosen, the scene is set, and the plan…fails tremendously with hilarious results and twists in the plot that no one, not even the writers themselves, could have envisioned. Enter Inspector John Smith, a devoted fan of the three legends, and chaos and disarray arise aided by the butler, Charters. The third act is truly a climax that enthrals and satisfies the audience, and answers all questions—ones that weren’t even asked!
Over My Dead Body is a play based on Robert L Fish’s 1968 novel The Murder League. The Murder League (‘a literary society dedicated to the genre of mystery thrillers, not the Mafia’) in London is fading away with only three of its pioneers and founders left to bemoan the demise of their genre. A younger member and best-selling writer, Simon, scorns their work and antiquated styles stating that the public don’t want complicated plots and red-herrings. Determined to recoup the interest in classic murder mysteries, Trevor, Dora and Barti plan the perfect murder with all the timeless elements; a room locked from the inside, cryptic clues, and a touch of the baroque. Their victim is the Baker Street Bludgeoner and from the moment he steps into the room, all goes awry. The three writers desperately cling to the plan attempting, against all odds, to create an outcome that succeeds; however, no one anticipates the dramatic twists and turns, akin to Conan Doyle, Christie, and Poe, that proceed. The following morning Inspector John Smith arrives with his sergeant—despite his devotion to Dora, Trevor and Barti’s work he is surprisingly slow on the uptake and needs considerable encouragement and suggestion on Trevor and Dora’s part to solve the mystery. But the plot develops further with revelations and discoveries that no one could have predicted.
The Adelaide University Fringe Club has succeeded once again with the production of Over My Dead Body. It is a classic tale that never fails to entertain and excite audiences with a witty script, flawless performances, and dramatic set. The cast members coasted through the technical difficulties with witty banter and entertainment while staying true to their characters throughout the performance. Their portrayal of classic British humour and stoic behaviour was singular and the plot convincing—the script advanced the plot with realistic dialogue, humour, and an unspoken camaraderie between the three aging writers, while Simon’s true nature was shrouded in mystery until the very end. The soundtrack provided key background sounds at appropriate occasions, and the set and props were used effectively.
Overall it was an entertaining and compelling production executed with finesse and professionalism that I would recommend for lovers of murder mysteries and unambiguous theatre. The eternal question of murder being an irrational act is debated and unearthed in this production in an engaging manner. The attention to detail, costumes, and make-up were precise, which further engaged the viewers in the production—the audience was responsive to all the characters and eagerly anticipated the developing events.