Flinders University Performing Arts Society
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 19 Jan 2019

Review by Paige Mulholland

“All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Murder Mystery”’s very long title pretty much tells you all you need to know – the story follows a group of wannabe thespians performing in a bad murder mystery, though whether they learn anything along the way remains to be seen. Unfortunately, the show isn’t just a play within a play, it’s a bad play within a bad play.

Fans of “The Play that Goes Wrong” will recognise many similarities in this show, from the farcical characters to the comedy-of-errors-style plot. What’s missing from this show is any meaningful engagement with the genre of murder mystery. Aside from one extended joke about a red herring and a few knives sticking out of characters’ backs, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Murder Mystery” doesn’t have much to do with murder mysteries at all, and without parody, all the audience is left with is a cast of in-your-face, two dimensional characters knocking against each other. Another thing that was missing was content – although the show is advertised as running for 60 minutes, on the night of review the final bows occurred at the 40 minute mark. Whether this was planned or something was missed during the performance remains unclear, which probably says something about the quality of the plot.

The cast of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Murder Mystery” were enthusiastic, but underrehearsed. With just under two weeks of rehearsal time, some characters were speaking over each other and were yet to master the dynamics and timing needed to bring out the comedy in their dialogue. Even in a farce, characters need light and shade, and most of these performances were consistently on one very energetic and intense level. However, the performers all seemed to be having a great time and earned a few big laughs from the audience, and, with better source material and more rehearsal time, would have had real potential.

Highlights included Nick Mitchell as the grumpy Stage Manager, Cordelia Ferguson as Flapjacks and Kahrynn Annese as Accusing Actor, although her too-cool-for-school performance stood out a little too much against the OTT, high-energy characterisations coming from the rest of the cast.

“All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Murder Mystery” had its moments, but on the whole needed better writing, more rehearsal time and more light-and-shade to really hit the mark. But kudos to the performers on learning the content in a matter of days when some of us can’t even memorise our dinner order.