Style: 1920s-style murder mystery
Where: Colab Tavern, Elephant and Castle
Rating: 4 stars
That’s the question you are at Cyanide at the Speakeasy to solve.
Speakeasy owner and all round crook John Hartsby has died in the night and suspicion fills the air of the illegal speakeasy he ran. So what has happened, why, how and who was involved.
As an audience we are transformed into detectives – led by (surprisingly British) investigator Rutherford (Sam Emmerson). We are immediately introduced to the four suspects, Nightclub singer and, now, widow Rose Hartsby (Alice Corrigan), Trader by day and card player by night Nick Cartaway (Chris J Railton), Receptionist at his firm – the dumb blonde Daisy (Lauren Shotton) and the new bartender James Ratney (Richard Delroy).
The whole group are encouraged to question each of the suspects as they withdraw to separate spaces and we uncover more and more about their relationships to each other and to the deceased.
Cyanide in the Speakeasy is an incredibly fun way to spend a night out. The vibe is a mix of that sense of a speakeasy itself (there is a *lot* of drinking going on) and a murder mystery evening. Me and my guest found ourselves wandering from place to place without ever feeling lost or bored. We were coralled just enough for the evening to have structure and given just the right amount of freedom to choose our own adventure.
The cast are incredibly well versed in their characters to the point that questioning them is genuinely fascinating. There is clearly a lot of very well thought through backstory. So much so that I am not sure we ever even plumbed the true depths of it. They are completely at ease in the interactive mode – improvising clever asides and interactions while never losing sight of the story and the destination they are trying to steer the audience towards. At one point, I lost myself down a complete and utterly wrongheaded rabbit hole and the person I was interrogating at the time handled it with humour and aplomb!
Cyanide at the speakeasy is an easy introduction to interactive, immersive theatre. It’s gentle humour is combined with a storyline that is complex enough to allow the audience to feelt hey are being challenged without leaving us baffled and frustrated. Combine that with the professionalism and obvious love of craft from the actors and we were delivered a great night out in a Martini glass.