What would happen if Agatha Christie met Father Brown? This seems to be asked by David Semple, the acclaimed writer of the famous series branded BBC ONE, in bringing to the stage the one man shows entitled “Are You Being Murdered?” A show focused exclusively on the talents of “Allo Allo” actor Arthur Bostrom, capable of bringing together comedy and mystery, suspense and social satire.
Set in the golden age of old BBC sitcoms, the show proves to be marked by a glossy nostalgia that winks at a specific generation and targets that generation specifically. Although with its lively monologue and ready wit, the show seems to take up, like a dress worn out by too much use, certain stereotypes of a genre unable to speak to a contemporary audience with sharper and more irreverent tastes. There is no shortage of gags, but they are mostly striking for their self-referentiality, for their lack of originality.
Focusing on the world of supporting artists, of TV extras, the plot is mostly interesting for a meta-theatrical reflection on what it means to be an actor and to seek one’s chance, that one big shot, in a world of pettiness and sacrifice. On the other hand, the mystery plot, where the protagonist, Jamie Button, moves Becomes from a mere stage extra, the protagonist of a real detective story, remains drab, a faded echo of a mystery novel to be read in a daze on the beach.
The story takes off and amuses only because of the comic and linguistic gag talent of its protagonist, who winks at the audience more than once, in a continuous game of references to a vanished pop culture and self-mockery, where the whodunit plot gives way to a series of linguistic and social satires, of strongly characterised and somewhat exaggerated characters. But it is the nostalgia that surrounds the whole act that emerges strongly in what appears to be a show that is a little too stale for today’s times, but certainly well-acted and wittily written.
Continues until 20th August with further details and tickets available HERE.
Reviewer: Anna Chiari
Reviewed: 9th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★