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Nightie before Christmas

25th BIRTHDAY PRESENT


To celebrate our 25th anniversary (November 30), we have created a highly original Christmas Murder Mystery
and we are offering it at 1990 prices.
(OK, there are far fewer actors than there were in that first show but come on… a quarter of a century has passed).

The show is available to book now.

We are NOT expecting to run this show after December 24th so it has a very limited shelf life (although we will wheel it out again next year)
BOOK NOW!

25th BIRTHDAY PRESENT


To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we’ve created an original Christmas show
and we are offering it at 1990 prices.
We are taking bookings now (it has a naturally limited shelf life).

BOOK NOW!

25th BIRTHDAY


To celebrate our 25 years, we’ve created a Christmas show
and offering it at 1990 prices.
BOOK NOW!.

A Brand New Murder Mystery for Christmas

The Nightie before Christmas pictureA two actor murder mystery for Christmas.

Thanks to a storm, a small village finds itself cut off from the world. No-one can get in or out so when Vic Timms, a wealthy but unpopular resident, is shot dead at midnight on Christmas Eve (apparently, by Father Christmas), the suspect list is limited.

Most people are in the pub or the church, and others have an alibi. So who COULD have murdered him? And, with the village in lock down, it’s surely a matter of time before the police find the Santa costume and the gun.

But they don’t.

The case remains open. Some vital clue has been missed. Detective Chief Inspector George Slapper of Scotland Yard presents the case to a group of potential criminologists.

Not only is it down to YOUR team to solve the case, you also play the WITNESSES and SUSPECTS.

By presenting the case, we hope at last to solve it.

Murder Mystery for Christmas

The Nightie before Christmas pictureWhen Vic Timms is shot on Christmas Eve in a cut off village, the suspect list is limited.

Most people are in the pub or the church, so who COULD have murdered him?

Some vital clue has been missed. YOUR team must solve the case and play the SUSPECTS in order to, at last, solve it.

The Nightie before Christmas pictureTo celebrate our 25 years, we’ve written a brand new Christmas show, and we’re selling it at 1990 prices!

Set on Christmas Eve in a remote village, your team must solve the case and play the SUSPECTS.

Murder Mystery for Christmas

The Nightie before Christmas pictureA small village cut off from the world. No-one can get in or out, so when ‘Santa’ shoots Vic Timms on Christmas Eve, the suspect list is limited.

Most people are in the pub or the church, so who COULD have murdered him? And where is the costume and gun?

Some vital clue has been missed. Detective Slapper of Scotland Yard presents the case to a group of potential criminologists.

YOUR team must solve the case AND play the SUSPECTS. By presenting the case, we hope at last to solve it.

A Village removed from the world

Trees snow roadAgatha Christie loved to set her murder mysteries in a remote location, cut off from the world. A train stuck in snow, a boat on the river, a country house. For this show, I ‘closed’ the entire village of Lonely Bottom.

Only one road runs through the village. To the south, the river has broken it’s banks and flooded, closing the bridge. To the north, trees have fallen. The river, to the east, is dangerously high and fast flowing. To the west, a sheer cliff face defines the start of the mountain.

Of the 177 population, 22 managed to get away for Christmas. 14 ‘outsiders’ are spending Christmas in the village, 67 are in the pub, 88 in the church. That leaves 12 unaccounted for. 1 is murdered, leaving eleven potential murderers.

Population (normally)
177 people
Away from the village for Christmas
22 people
Staying in the village for Christmas
14 people
people in the church
88 people
people in the pub
67 people
murder victims
88 people
Leaving (potential killers)
11 people

A Village removed from the world

Agatha Christie loved to set her murder mysteries in a remote location, cut off from the world. I’ve ‘closed’ an entire village.

Only one road runs through the village. To the south, the river has broken it’s banks and flooded, closing the bridge. To the north, trees have fallen. The river, to the east, is dangerously high and fast flowing. To the west, a sheer cliff face defines the start of the mountain.

Population (normally)
177 people
Away from the village for Christmas
22 people
Staying in the village for Christmas
14 people
people in the church
88 people
people in the pub
67 people
murder victims
88 people
Leaving (potential killers)
11 people

Agatha Christie loved to set her murder mysteries in a remote location, cut off from the world. I’ve ‘closed’ an entire village.

Only one road runs through the village. To the south, the river has broken it’s banks and flooded, closing the bridge. To the north, trees have fallen. The river, to the east, is dangerously high and fast flowing. To the west, a sheer cliff face defines the start of the mountain.

Population (normally)
177 people
Away from the village for Christmas
22 people
Staying in the village for Christmas
14 people
people in the church
88 people
people in the pub
67 people
murder victims
88 people
Leaving (potential killers)
11 people

Writing a Murder Mystery

Clock face at midnightIt’s been ages since I wrote a brand new murder mystery. I thought it about time I wrote one specifically for Christmas.

Starting the process is good fun but you soon run into the problems. That’s when you remember WHY you haven’t written a new show.

I really hate ‘cheating’ an audience. If you are going to ask them to solve the puzzle, you really do need to make it solvable (but without making it too easy, or too difficult).

You have to actually give them the clues. Only when you have a really solid framework can you start to add comedy and character to your script. It is SO difficult (far harder than any other kind of writing because you really cannot gauge how much an audience actually gets).

But I have enjoyed the images of this script and I hope to be able to get those images across.

I began with the typical ‘cut off house’ scenario. But these days, with mobile phones, it’s virtually impossible to be truly cut off. Then I came up with an entire village that is impossible to enter or leave, certainly without anyone noticing. Fallen trees at one end, a flooded river at the other.

I needed to limit the potential suspects so I stuck most of the village in either the church or the pub.

Then there were my favourite images. The killer disguised as Father Christmas… I can’t really give you the other images without giving you the solution. As with shows I’ve written in the past, I’d really like to film it (maybe I will one day).

All murder mysteries need some tweaking and refining before they are truly great, but my 25 years experience means I know when I have a good show on my hands.

It was certainly better than the show we did on November 30, 1990.

Writing a Murder Mystery

Clock face at midnightIt’s been ages since I wrote a brand new murder mystery. I thought it about time I wrote one specifically for Christmas.

Starting the process is good fun but you soon run into the problems. That’s when you remember WHY you haven’t written a new show.

I really hate ‘cheating’ an audience. If you are going to ask them to solve the puzzle, you really do need to make it solvable (but without making it too easy, or too difficult).

You have to actually give them the clues. Only when you have a really solid framework can you start to add comedy and character to your script. It is SO difficult (far harder than any other kind of writing because you really cannot gauge how much an audience actually gets).

But I have enjoyed the images of this script and I hope to be able to get those images across.

I began with the typical ‘cut off house’ scenario. But these days, with mobile phones, it’s virtually impossible to be truly cut off. Then I came up with an entire village that is impossible to enter or leave, certainly without anyone noticing. Fallen trees at one end, a flooded river at the other.

I needed to limit the potential suspects so I stuck most of the village in either the church or the pub.

Then there were my favourite images. The killer disguised as Father Christmas… I can’t really give you the other images without giving you the solution. As with shows I’ve written in the past, I’d really like to film it (maybe I will one day).

All murder mysteries need some tweaking and refining before they are truly great, but my 25 years experience means I know when I have a good show on my hands.

It was certainly better than the show we did on November 30, 1990.

Writing

It’s been ages since I wrote a brand new murder mystery. I thought it about time I wrote one specifically for Christmas.

Starting the process is good fun but you soon run into the problems. That’s when you remember WHY you haven’t written a new show.

I really hate ‘cheating’ an audience. If you are going to ask them to solve the puzzle, you really do need to make it solvable (but without making it too easy, or too difficult).

You have to actually give them the clues. Only when you have a really solid framework can you start to add comedy and character to your script. It is SO difficult (far harder than any other kind of writing because you really cannot gauge how much an audience actually gets).

But I have enjoyed the images of this script and I hope to be able to get those images across.

I began with the typical ‘cut off house’ scenario. But these days, with mobile phones, it’s virtually impossible to be truly cut off. Then I came up with an entire village that is impossible to enter or leave, certainly without anyone noticing. Fallen trees at one end, a flooded river at the other.

I needed to limit the potential suspects so I stuck most of the village in either the church or the pub.

Then there were my favourite images. The killer disguised as Father Christmas… I can’t really give you the other images without giving you the solution. As with shows I’ve written in the past, I’d really like to film it (maybe I will one day).

All murder mysteries need some tweaking and refining before they are truly great, but my 25 years experience means I know when I have a good show on my hands.

It was certainly better than the show we did on November 30, 1990.

NOVEMBER 1990

Merry-ChristmasI remember how it began.

Having trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (very posh drama school), I’d worked in the USA and off West-End in London before gaining a job at The Royal Shakespeare Company (very posh theatre company).

I’d also just understudied Ken Branagh in the West-End production of ‘Look Back in Anger’ (directed by Judi Dench).

My agent called to say a couple of New Yorkers were in town casting a Murder Mystery near St Paul’s Cathedral. I told her I wasn’t interested. She said the money was good. I said I’d meet them.

They offered me the part of the detective. I was to improvise interviews with a series of suspects, working on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I was invited to watch Wednesday’s cast in order to get a feel for the style.

I watched the show. It was awful. Lots of leery actresses saying cockney things like, ‘Ello darlin’. It didn’t bode well.

On my way out, a waiter told me the shows had been cancelled. The New Yorker’s, realising London wasn’t ready for them, had vanished. I’ve no idea if the actors were paid, but I was off the hook.

On my way home, I called in to one of the pubs the RSC used. I told a friend how I’d nearly been in a murder mystery.

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘My mum does those.’

It dawned on me that murder mystery was ‘easy money’. You just need to improvise. No real work involved.

So my wife and I began to advertise them. After a while (and a fair bit of traipsing around hotels and splashing out on ads) we had some interest. A financial company (who shall remain nameless) were holding an event in Eastbourne on November 30, 1990.

We agreed a price (which felt like a million pounds at the time, before I’d paid six actors, van hire, costumes, etc), then set about casting.

I used friends from RADA and the RSC. It must have been one of the poshest murder mystery cast lists ever. None of us had done much improvising before (I’d grown used to 10 week rehearsal periods) but we set off to Eastbourne with a few vague ideas on a scrap of paper, a brand new gun and some blank cartridges.

Pinched Bums

It was the first time (though not the last) I’d played to an openly drunk audience. We had the idea to place one actor on each of the tables for the duration of the meal.

Problem was the groping. All of the girls had their bums pinched (possibly some of the guys too). I’d hoped the teams would quiz the characters but, instead, they asked us what it was like to be an actor.

We made a mental note: the actors get a separate table in future.

We finished far earlier than expected. A quick gunshot to end, a round of applause. The audience seemed happy. We didn’t quite know what had hit us but we must have done something right because the hotel manager asked us to return in December to entertain his Christmas guests.

We hired a van over Christmas and decided to start with a sing-a-long Christmas carol theme, then let the gun off. We’d brought in the elderly mother of a friend to play the piano. She’d always wanted to be an actress and she was a similar age to the audience.

Heart Attack

The sing-a-long went well. The audience were all in their 80’s or 90’s it seemed, and they’d had a long day. It started going wrong when we fired the gun. They simply didn’t get the concept.

I was told off for ‘looking through a woman’s handbag.’ I had to tell them I was a police officer and the woman was a suspect. Besides, the handbag was a prop.

They were tired. We were improvising. We were trying to make them laugh. They weren’t laughing.

I was dressed a Santa and dying a death, so I came off and sent a friend of mine (also dressed as Santa) onstage. I remember saying, ‘I can’t make them laugh. You have a go.’

We got through as much as we could (the hotel manager was loving it). It was like something out of Fawlty Towers. My friend, realising I was beginning the finale speech, shouted, ‘Shoot me. Shoot me.’ I shot him, we bowed, we left.

The following morning, we realised I’d need to write a script. My friend called me to say his mother had really enjoyed her experience but had suffered a mild heart attack and was in hospital!

The Murder Mystery game, I soon realised, was not quite the easy, stress-free ride I was expecting it to be.

Keep Trying

We were at a crossroads. Do we give up or carry on?

There were only about four other murder mystery companies in those days (including my RSC mate’s mum’s) so there was space for our kind of dramatic comedy. But it took a while to get right. We did a show in Stratford-upon-Avon (my old home in the RSC days). It wasn’t good. But a successful comedian friend of mine came to see the show. He said we had loads of potential, and his early shows were disastrous. The trick, he said, was to keep going. Learn from your mistakes.

So we did. It took another show or two but I well recall the day we got it right.

It was for the Holiday Inn at Gatwick. May 23, 1991. The largest audience we’d ever had by a long way.

But we’d honed the script, learned the trade (knowing when to go with the script and when to improvise). We’d learned you have to win your audience (I still think it is similar to Shakespeare’s company at The Globe).

We received a standing ovation. The show was a complete success. We were on our way.

I’m not suggesting there haven’t been some dodgy shows since then, but they are usually down to alcohol or a difficult venue (sight-lines), rather than our failings.

I’d love to travel back in time and see what our first show was like in Eastbourne. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

But it is certainly a lot better, and a lot easier, now.

NOVEMBER 1990

Merry-ChristmasI remember how it began.

Having trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (very posh drama school), I’d worked in the USA and off West-End in London before gaining a job at The Royal Shakespeare Company (very posh theatre company).

I’d also just understudied Ken Branagh in the West-End production of ‘Look Back in Anger’ (directed by Judi Dench).

My agent called to say a couple of New Yorkers were in town casting a Murder Mystery near St Paul’s Cathedral. I told her I wasn’t interested. She said the money was good. I said I’d meet them.

They offered me the part of the detective. I was to improvise interviews with a series of suspects, working on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I was invited to watch Wednesday’s cast in order to get a feel for the style.

I watched the show. It was awful. Lots of leery actresses saying cockney things like, ‘Ello darlin’. It didn’t bode well.

On my way out, a waiter told me the shows had been cancelled. The New Yorker’s, realising London wasn’t ready for them, had vanished. I’ve no idea if the actors were paid, but I was off the hook.

On my way home, I called in to one of the pubs the RSC used. I told a friend how I’d nearly been in a murder mystery.

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘My mum does those.’

It dawned on me that murder mystery was ‘easy money’. You just need to improvise. No real work involved.

So my wife and I began to advertise them. After a while (and a fair bit of traipsing around hotels and splashing out on ads) we had some interest. A financial company (who shall remain nameless) were holding an event in Eastbourne on November 30, 1990.

We agreed a price (which felt like a million pounds at the time, before I’d paid six actors, van hire, costumes, etc), then set about casting.

I used friends from RADA and the RSC. It must have been one of the poshest murder mystery cast lists ever. None of us had done much improvising before (I’d grown used to 10 week rehearsal periods) but we set off to Eastbourne with a few vague ideas on a scrap of paper, a brand new gun and some blank cartridges.

Pinched Bums

It was the first time (though not the last) I’d played to an openly drunk audience. We had the idea to place one actor on each of the tables for the duration of the meal.

Problem was the groping. All of the girls had their bums pinched (possibly some of the guys too). I’d hoped the teams would quiz the characters but, instead, they asked us what it was like to be an actor.

We made a mental note: the actors get a separate table in future.

We finished far earlier than expected. A quick gunshot to end, a round of applause. The audience seemed happy. We didn’t quite know what had hit us but we must have done something right because the hotel manager asked us to return in December to entertain his Christmas guests.

We hired a van over Christmas and decided to start with a sing-a-long Christmas carol theme, then let the gun off. We’d brought in the elderly mother of a friend to play the piano. She’d always wanted to be an actress and she was a similar age to the audience.

Heart Attack

The sing-a-long went well. The audience were all in their 80’s or 90’s it seemed, and they’d had a long day. It started going wrong when we fired the gun. They simply didn’t get the concept.

I was told off for ‘looking through a woman’s handbag.’ I had to tell them I was a police officer and the woman was a suspect. Besides, the handbag was a prop.

They were tired. We were improvising. We were trying to make them laugh. They weren’t laughing.

I was dressed a Santa and dying a death, so I came off and sent a friend of mine (also dressed as Santa) onstage. I remember saying, ‘I can’t make them laugh. You have a go.’

We got through as much as we could (the hotel manager was loving it). It was like something out of Fawlty Towers. My friend, realising I was beginning the finale speech, shouted, ‘Shoot me. Shoot me.’ I shot him, we bowed, we left.

The following morning, we realised I’d need to write a script. My friend called me to say his mother had really enjoyed her experience but had suffered a mild heart attack and was in hospital!

The Murder Mystery game, I soon realised, was not quite the easy, stress-free ride I was expecting it to be.

Keep Trying

We were at a crossroads. Do we give up or carry on?

There were only about four other murder mystery companies in those days (including my RSC mate’s mum’s) so there was space for our kind of dramatic comedy. But it took a while to get right. We did a show in Stratford-upon-Avon (my old home in the RSC days). It wasn’t good. But a successful comedian friend of mine came to see the show. He said we had loads of potential, and his early shows were disastrous. The trick, he said, was to keep going. Learn from your mistakes.

So we did. It took another show or two but I well recall the day we got it right.

It was for the Holiday Inn at Gatwick. May 23, 1991. The largest audience we’d ever had by a long way.

But we’d honed the script, learned the trade (knowing when to go with the script and when to improvise). We’d learned you have to win your audience (I still think it is similar to Shakespeare’s company at The Globe).

We received a standing ovation. The show was a complete success. We were on our way.

I’m not suggesting there haven’t been some dodgy shows since then, but they are usually down to alcohol or a difficult venue (sight-lines), rather than our failings.

I’d love to travel back in time and see what our first show was like in Eastbourne. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

But it is certainly a lot better, and a lot easier, now.

1990

I remember how it began.

Having trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (very posh drama school), I’d worked in the USA and off West-End in London before gaining a job at The Royal Shakespeare Company (very posh theatre company).

I’d also just understudied Ken Branagh in the West-End production of ‘Look Back in Anger’ (directed by Judi Dench).

My agent called to say a couple of New Yorkers were in town casting a Murder Mystery near St Paul’s Cathedral. I told her I wasn’t interested. She said the money was good. I said I’d meet them.

They offered me the part of the detective. I was to improvise interviews with a series of suspects, working on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I was invited to watch Wednesday’s cast in order to get a feel for the style.

I watched the show. It was awful. Lots of leery actresses saying cockney things like, ‘Ello darlin’. It didn’t bode well.

On my way out, a waiter told me the shows had been cancelled. The New Yorker’s, realising London wasn’t ready for them, had vanished. I’ve no idea if the actors were paid, but I was off the hook.

On my way home, I called in to one of the pubs the RSC used. I told a friend how I’d nearly been in a murder mystery.

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘My mum does those.’

It dawned on me that murder mystery was ‘easy money’. You just need to improvise. No real work involved.

So my wife and I began to advertise them. After a while (and a fair bit of traipsing around hotels and splashing out on ads) we had some interest. A financial company (who shall remain nameless) were holding an event in Eastbourne on November 30, 1990.

We agreed a price (which felt like a million pounds at the time, before I’d paid six actors, van hire, costumes, etc), then set about casting.

I used friends from RADA and the RSC. It must have been one of the poshest murder mystery cast lists ever. None of us had done much improvising before (I’d grown used to 10 week rehearsal periods) but we set off to Eastbourne with a few vague ideas on a scrap of paper, a brand new gun and some blank cartridges.

Pinched Bums

It was the first time (though not the last) I’d played to an openly drunk audience. We had the idea to place one actor on each of the tables for the duration of the meal.

Problem was the groping. All of the girls had their bums pinched (possibly some of the guys too). I’d hoped the teams would quiz the characters but, instead, they asked us what it was like to be an actor.

We made a mental note: the actors get a separate table in future.

We finished far earlier than expected. A quick gunshot to end, a round of applause. The audience seemed happy. We didn’t quite know what had hit us but we must have done something right because the hotel manager asked us to return in December to entertain his Christmas guests.

We hired a van over Christmas and decided to start with a sing-a-long Christmas carol theme, then let the gun off. We’d brought in the elderly mother of a friend to play the piano. She’d always wanted to be an actress and she was a similar age to the audience.

Heart Attack

The sing-a-long went well. The audience were all in their 80’s or 90’s it seemed, and they’d had a long day. It started going wrong when we fired the gun. They simply didn’t get the concept.

I was told off for ‘looking through a woman’s handbag.’ I had to tell them I was a police officer and the woman was a suspect. Besides, the handbag was a prop.

They were tired. We were improvising. We were trying to make them laugh. They weren’t laughing.

I was dressed a Santa and dying a death, so I came off and sent a friend of mine (also dressed as Santa) onstage. I remember saying, ‘I can’t make them laugh. You have a go.’

We got through as much as we could (the hotel manager was loving it). It was like something out of Fawlty Towers. My friend, realising I was beginning the finale speech, shouted, ‘Shoot me. Shoot me.’ I shot him, we bowed, we left.

The following morning, we realised I’d need to write a script. My friend called me to say his mother had really enjoyed her experience but had suffered a mild heart attack and was in hospital!

The Murder Mystery game, I soon realised, was not quite the easy, stress-free ride I was expecting it to be.

Keep Trying

We were at a crossroads. Do we give up or carry on?

There were only about four other murder mystery companies in those days (including my RSC mate’s mum’s) so there was space for our kind of dramatic comedy. But it took a while to get right. We did a show in Stratford-upon-Avon (my old home in the RSC days). It wasn’t good. But a successful comedian friend of mine came to see the show. He said we had loads of potential, and his early shows were disastrous. The trick, he said, was to keep going. Learn from your mistakes.

So we did. It took another show or two but I well recall the day we got it right.

It was for the Holiday Inn at Gatwick. May 23, 1991. The largest audience we’d ever had by a long way.

But we’d honed the script, learned the trade (knowing when to go with the script and when to improvise). We’d learned you have to win your audience (I still think it is similar to Shakespeare’s company at The Globe).

We received a standing ovation. The show was a complete success. We were on our way.

I’m not suggesting there haven’t been some dodgy shows since then, but they are usually down to alcohol or a difficult venue (sight-lines), rather than our failings.

I’d love to travel back in time and see what our first show was like in Eastbourne. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

But it is certainly a lot better, and a lot easier, now.

Back to TODAY

The Nightie before Christmas pictureThanks for reading all that history. But DON’T FORGET this offer.

A brand new murder mystery at 1990 prices.

Why? Because I will need to tweak it. I am far, far more accomplished at writing scripts than I was back then. But there is always room for improvement.

Do I need to give them more on this suspect? Am I giving them too much on that suspect? I must find a way of getting THIS information across.

Next Christmas, this show will be priced at 2016 rates, so grab it now.

CONTACT us today to secure your event. Ideally suited to smaller groups (10-30 people, although it could work for higher numbers).

Don’t forget, you can still book the larger show (Sherlock) or the non-Christmassy two actor show, The Peyton Case.

Simply go to the MURDER MYSTERY page.

Back to TODAY

The Nightie before Christmas pictureThanks for reading all that history. But DON’T FORGET this offer.

A brand new murder mystery at 1990 prices.

Why? Because I will need to tweak it. I am far, far more accomplished at writing scripts than I was back then. But there is always room for improvement.

Do I need to give them more on this suspect? Am I giving them too much on that suspect? I must find a way of getting THIS information across.

Next Christmas, this show will be priced at 2016 rates, so grab it now.

CONTACT us today to secure your event. Ideally suited to smaller groups (10-30 people, although it could work for higher numbers).

Don’t forget, you can still book the larger show (Sherlock) or the non-Christmassy two actor show, The Peyton Case.

Simply go to the MURDER MYSTERY page.