Had a fantastic time last night taking part in an immersive mystery play, The Great Middlemarch Mystery. Starting at Draper’s Hall, we were presented with some intriguing characters and then were sent off to either follow one of them or forge our own paths, to gather clues and solve the mystery…
The play took part between 5 different sets, before coming together to ‘solve the mystery’ together at the end. I didn’t realise, but it was actually based on George Eliot’s Middlemarch. I’d never read it and in a way that made it a little more fun, experiencing the story first hand in this way!
As soon as I sat down, I realised I’d placed myself next to one of the actors who were sat amongst the audience, the Mayor’s wife Mrs Vincy, and she made me feel a part of it with her little comments about how Doctor Lidgate was ‘a dish’.
Overall, the acting from the main cast was exceptional – when two of the main characters had a spat in front of me, I actually felt second hand awkwardness and had to look away! The secondary characters (those who were hearing the gossip about the main cast) and the guides were fantastic too, we quickly lost our awkwardness and became fully immersed in the drama.
You could take the play at your own pace – we ran around between the buildings gathering all the information we could, but we inferred that it wouldn’t have mattered if you’d settled in one place, you’d still have got pieces of information. It actually had an element of ‘replay-ability’ – if you chose to remain in different locations I think you’d have got slightly different hear-say.
Related post: The Hound of the Baskervilles review
The Middlemarch Mystery Finale
What was most interesting was the underlying commentary on ‘mob’ mentality and small-town gossip: we all knew varying information and all didn’t really know the full story but the town was very quick to judge the ‘bad guys’ and drive them out of the town, whether they were murderers or not. Of course, myself and my friend were shouting silly things like ‘BURN THE WITCH’, ‘KILL THE BEAST’ and ‘OFF WITH HIS HEAD’.
The answer to all the town’s problems, once the bankers and investors had gone, was of course to band together and create a community fund to help one another in the town. Yes, comrades. Communism is the solution. I have to say the man who played Ladislaw (who pushed for public reform) was a bit of a ‘dish’ too – me and my friend Joe, fought over who caught the kiss he blew to the audience.
Drapers Hall was an excellent, intimate venue – and it was lovely to see the insides of the older buildings next to the cathedral that I’ve passed many times! It’s worth mentioning that also it was really inclusive, and had BSL interpreters and guides who people could follow. I would really recommend going there if this is the calibre of events that will be put on there!