Back about 16 years ago, I participated in a creative writing group. We’d share our short stories and poems, even technical writings. We also wrote several original interactive murder mysteries, and then acted them out as an event for the social group to which we all belonged. (this opening sentence sounds familiar doesn’t it?:D)
The interactive murder mysteries were fun. We did the first one before the writers’ group got started, and it was a boxed set. It was done as a social event for the local Mensa group. It involved some beatniks and some suspicious characters (the two in front with red eye), who turned out to be extraterrestrials (the red eye was pure coincidence). We decided we could do better than that. (by the way - the tall guy in the back with the tie and the uber serious look on his face? that’s The Asshole I mention waaaaaaaaaaaaay back, except he hadn’t yet turned into an asshole)
Warning: Don’t go getting any ideas about stealing these. We had the foresight to copyright the material.
Murder in Blue Blood
Our first attempt at writing our own was the most convoluted of the bunch and the most fun. We set it in one of those lovely Nantucket mansions in the 1930s. We did a lot of research on the time period, and ended up using almost none of it. We did find an antique wheel chair and decided the patriarch of the family was chair bound. He’d made his money the really old fashioned way - rum running. He had a drunk widowed daughter in law (me), her nefarious fake psychic, a black sheep son (the drunk (me)'s brother in law), a shy nurse, her boyfriend the newspaper editor, a granddaughter (the drunk’s (my) daughter who stood to inherit the bulk of Papa’s wealth), the grandduaghter’s fiancé, and a historical biographer (who turned out to be Papa’s illegitimate daughter from a one night stand).
We had the most fun trying to work out the time line - and we had to have the historian out on the grounds of the estate for an inordinately long time, but also be in a position to see and be seen thru a window. So we had her walk around the gazebo several times (but we did not name her Erica).
We had a packed room, again as a Mensa event, and we interacted with the attendees, answering questions, in character, about the murder. The premise of the evening was that it was a pre-coming out (debutante, not gay ;)) reception for ‘my daughter’ (during which it was discovered that the fake psychic had been murdered) so I walked around introducing her to the guests. I walked up to one woman, ‘daughter’ in tow, and said “Have you met my lovely daughter?” The woman said “Yes, over breakfast this morning” It was her RL mom.
We provided the gathered multitudes with munchies and soft drinks, including homemade marzipan - and later revealed the murder weapon was cyanide. Appropriate reactions ensued. At the end of the game, people wrote on slips of paper who they thought the murderer was (we all had motive and opportunity) - the winner was picked at random from the correct guesses, and received a gift certificate to Borders Books. A lot of people voted for me, but I wasn’t the murderer.
It was such a resounding success, that we were asked to do a repeat performance in Westchester for those who couldn’t make it down to the Guylandt.
The Fine Art Of Murder
Murder in Blue Blood was so well received, the chapter board requested we write and perform another one. This time we decided to incorporate the performance space (a multipurpose room in a Unitarian Church that often had art exhibits) into the story - so this one took place in a small museum/gallery (one of those store front places found in small towns). There was an Incan treasure, hidden cocaine, and Mafia ties. I got to play a bitch. I was a Mafia princess who thought she had fooled everyone by changing her name and getting a “real” job at the gallery, but nefarious activities ensued. The funny part was when one of my friends found an obit for someone with the same name as my character. Again, many incorrect votes for me.:dubious: (Do I really come off as evil/shifty/murderous?)
This one also resulted in a command performance for the northern 'burbs.
Blood and Circuits
By now we were “stars”. The Writers’ SIG Murder Mystery was one of the most looked forward to events on the calendar. And because the attendance at the first two packed the little room, the church leased us the big room (used for religious services) at only slightly more than the regular price.
Alas this script wasn’t as good. It involved Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and a murder that could only have been done by the robot. (Was Will Smith in our audience?) My character started off as Russian, because since the story was set in the near future, we figured an international robotics company would have an international staff, and because I liked talking like Ensign Chekov. But the others in the group kept cracking up, and kept asking me about “Moose and Squirrel” so we made her Irish. I can do a fairly decent Brogue when I practice. But on performance night, I lost it and slipped into a bad Cockney accent. And again, I was the popular suspect, even though we’d written the script so that there was no way I could be one (I’d insisted on that, just to see what would happen). But this time, there was no request for a visit to the northern burbs.
Dead Poe Society
By now, one of our regular members had moved away, The Asshole started showing his true colors, and others of us had gotten into other things, so the script was written by two people and handed out for rehearsals. I told one of the writers “I don’t care what else is going into the plot - just make me the murderer this time.” If you can’t beat 'em . . .
The story took place during a meeting of the Edgar Allen Poe Fan Club - there was to be a reading from a controversial new biography by the author, president of this august group, himself. One of the group had told us she didn’t have time to make too many of the rehearsals, so she became the victim, killed off in the first scene. She later came back into the room, after a change of clothes, wearing a name tag that said “No, I’m someone else. I just got here.” so no one would mistake her for “a ghost” and ask her questions. So, yeah, I was the murderer. And no one voted for me!
Shortly after that, the gal who’d organized the Writer’s SIG moved to Connecticut, and we stopped meeting for that purpose. But we’re all still friends, and many of the details in this OP have come from their memories as well as mine.
I have no idea why I thought this would make a good MMPOP, but what the heck, it hasn’t been my turn in a while. I just wish I actually had more pictures from those performances to show you. I should have askd my cohorts for photos - which I’ll do now, and post later this week (or next, whattheheck) Oh - that shiny dark pink dress? I wore it as the drunk in the first story, and I wore the lacy blue dress as the Mafia princess in the second story. Had to get some extra use out of them