We were fortunate enough to be able to attend a dress rehearsal of Final Cut, which was a Murder Mystery Dinner performance at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. This project was created by Yellobrick, a creative marketing agency who build experiences for brands and organisations.
When arriving at the venue for the performance, we were pointed down to a restaurant on the ground level of the WMC called Ffresh Cabaret Bar. It was a bright and modern bar space, however we were showed to a room around the corner from this bar which acted as their location for this Murder Mystery. We were greeted at the door by a 'crew' member who told us what table to sit at and to get comfy. We were sat at a table with other audience members who we did not know, however, we did make sure to introduce ourselves and make some small talk. Occasionally, 'crew' members would walk around and ask audience members to fill in a form and return it when completed. We were never personally given one of these forms, however, someone else on our table was, and it was basically a short form contract to use recorded images of said person, which gave us an assumption that recording was going to take place during the show.
Our assumptions were answered when the show began and we were witnessing a character called Shrieking Violet live streaming to her followers. She started to unravel the overall plot to the evening, explaining that we were at the final recording of a scene for a film which was written by Pierce Quinn, who had just recently passed. There was a large portrait of Pierce Quinn on the main stage, where the live stream was being projected, as if we were at a wake. Violet was a paranormal investigator who had been invited to the event, by no other than Pierce Quinn. Following this prologue by Shrieking Violet we were spoken to by the director who explained that we were the extras in a dining scene and to 'act natural'. He then apologised for the lack of crew available on set, and that we may have to jump in and help out every now and again. He then thanked us for our time and explained that this is what Pierce Quinn would have wanted, was for us to carry on the filming process. He then held up a bottle of whiskey and stated that he could wait to crack it open once we were finished. The main actors of the film then came out onto stage and introduced themselves, The main female character was very eccentric and over the top. She gave a very convincing 'I know better than you because I went to Drama School' performance; which was hilarious! The other main character was an overly friendly gent which gave us the impression that this might be his first proper gig in a feature film. He has a freshness about his behaviour on set and was willing to chat to anyone. Once the introductions had finished, we were then we were then shown a very funny and light hearted video on how to be an extra. Once this short tutorial was over, the filming began.
From this point onwards we were in the middle of a small scale film set. We were given cues on when to do specific movements and often told to do it multiple times for multiple takes. At this point of the performance, the commitment from the audience was little, I believe this was due to the lack of realism created by the cast to make it feel like an actual film set. There were a few pieces missing from the puzzle, such as film set lingo, specific equipment being used and large character personalities. Everything felt very 'amateur film set' due to the lack of essential job roles which are usually present on a real film set.
Following on throughout the evening, we were part of short scenes involving the 2 main actors and also some murders!!
Overall, 4 characters were murdered, all by using poison of some sort. Here is a run down of the murders;
Main Character 1: Killed by her lipstick which was reapplied by an audience member brought in to be the makeup department.
Main Character 2: Killed by his vape. He was panic vaping and eventually died.
The Director: Died by the whiskey which was left on stage in honour of Pierce Quinn.
Shrieking Violet: Killed by poison found on money which she was given by Pierce Quinn from beyond the grave.
Between each death, the other 'crew' members would chuck the body into a wheelchair and wheel them off set while we were being distracted by our courses of food. We were served a full 3 course meal, however, this process was not easy. There were 2 options, meat and vegetarian, but there was no where to specify which option you would prefer before the food came out. This caused a bit of delay in bringing our vegetarian options when more had been requested than they had prepared for. The food also was not mind blowing, but also wasn't a simple dish. It had an 80s theme to the dinner, with the Prawn Cocktail, Beef Brisket and strawberry cheesecake. Unfortunately, one of our diner guests did not like Prawns, so requested the vegetarian starter, but since they never asked for a vegetarian starter before the performance, there was not one available for him. However, the waiting staff did try their hardest to get some spare vegetarian dishes made and did offer him one once the performance had started up again.
Once all characters had been murdered, and there was a tense atmosphere starting to arise in the room, a video was projected on the screen on the main stage. It was Pierce Quinn! He started to unravel the events that had taken place that night, explaining that he was in fact the murderer and that we, the extras/audience members, had helped him to carry out these crimes! We helped reapply the lipstick, we we never called an ambulance when the next character died. We merely sat there and watched it all happen, we were a by stander. With the video ending exposing us as being an accomplice in the murders of all these people, no one knew what to do. Crew members started to rush around the room collecting in 'evidence' and asking everyone to leave.
We left around 10 minutes after the video finished. We stayed to discuss the performance with another audience member and to fill out a feedback form.
Overall the experience was enjoyable, but there were just a few bits missing to tie it all together. However, this was only a dress rehearsal, and with the feedback forms which the audience members filled out, they have time to add bits and tweak aspects to create a more well rounded performance.
Well done to Yellobrick and the team, it was a fab performance!