REVIEW: The Mournmoor Murders (NZ International Comedy Festvial)

Review by Tim George

[Missing Bodies]

Created by Alice May Connolly and Maria Williams, The Mournmoor Murders is an ensemble murder mystery set in a small town in which everyone is a suspect. The hook is that this show is a two-hander in which Connolly and Williams play every role – from the cops investigating the case, through the mayor who becomes the chief suspect, to the creators of the town’s Ukulele festival.

Accomplished without costume changes, the show’s effect is almost entirely dependent on Connolly and Williams’ performances (with the addition of lighting and musical cues). And they are really good – Connolly’s Mayor Jim Shadbolt is a cartoonish South Islander who seems to only have the job because he owns the local TAB, while Williams – in a highlight – adds pathos to the innocent child of the first murder victim.

As a concept The Mournmoor Murders is great. But while watching, I could not avoid a nagging sense that something was missing.

While the actors are good, the story moves between characters so fast I ended up a bit confused. And because there are so many characters it was hard to track the central thread. By the end of the show, it felt like the story was too big for the concept.

When the show settles on a set piece – like the interrogation of the Mayor, or a child’s embarrassing eulogy – the show is exactly as advertised. But there is a little too much extraneous plot that gets in the way of these key scenes really sticking and building.

The Mournmoor Murders is a fun show, but it feels like the story needs to be either re-jigged to fit its format, or expanded in some way to accommodate its cast of characters.

The Mournmoor Murders plays Basement Theatre until 18 May. 
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