Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Of A First Class Murder

On Saturday night I attended a murder. Or, more precisely, a glamourous French woman called Marie de Mignon lent her company to a sparkling evening full of good food, excellent conversation, and death, all compered by a little Belgian man with a waxed moustache who kept popping up on the TV screen. That's right: last weekend some friends and I put on an Agatha Christie murder mystery party!

The box set we used was based on the plot of Christie's The Plymouth Express (luckily one of the few Poirots I hadn't read, so I didn't know the denouement beforehand), and the eight of us each played one of the suspects in Flossie Carrington's murder (she'd been stabbed on a train and her jewels stolen...). The friend who organised the evening thought it would be hysterical if we were each given parts which required accents as far removed from our own as possible -- hence my transformation into Mlle de Mignon for the night. One of my friends was a Scotsman, another a cockney maid, Americans became Brits and vice versa, while the genuine Frenchwoman present became the haughtily English Lady Swansea.

I had great fun donning a blonde flapper wig and feather headdress, twirling a long cigarette holder between my begloved fingers, and trying to guess whodunnit...

We watched the introductory DVD in which Poirot (sadly not played by the wonderful David Suchet!) set the scene (you come back to the DVD at various points throughout the game, to hear witness testimonies and the like, and, of course, to hear Poirot reveal the killer at the end, when you get to see whether your leetel grey cells have matched up to his):

After Poirot had described the murder, the game began in earnest as we sat down in our allotted seats for dinner:

A couple of my friends provided us with a glorious meal of several courses, with such delights as pastry puffs filled with pear, cheese, and pine-nuts, home-made soup, and deliciously succulent pork belly:

The only downside was that by the end of the meal we were all too full to make the most of the wonderful cheeses on offer (oh, and the fact that one of my friends had a bit of a hard time making sure his fake moustache didn't fall off and become an interesting garnish in his soup!).

The game is moved along using script booklets and envelopes containing clues, which tell you about your character and what information you can -- or must -- reveal to other characters. Sometimes you're told to challenge one of the others, and at all points you have to tell the truth as written in your booklet, unless you've just read that you're the murderer, in which case lying is most definitely allowed! The killer's identity isn't revealed even to them until the very final pages of the booklet, however, so it can be quite nail-biting waiting to find out whether you yourself wielded the knife! I've done a couple of these murder mysteries before, and on one occasion I did turn out to be a murderess, which was incredibly good fun (especially as only one of my friends guessed; all the others suspected the nun...). As well as making sure you get in all the information required by the script, improvisation is also highly encouraged, which led to some highly entertaining conversations as we all enjoyed getting into character.

All in all, a fantastic evening, and I recommend such a night to anyone who's a fan of Agatha Christie, or indeed anyone who just likes dressing up in silly costumes and fooling around with their friends over a good meal and some nice wine. Murder is the perfect accompaniment to such foodie frivolity, for, as Sir W said in his 1600 essay 'Of Censuring',

'Death is the last relish'.


chingling26 said...

I was going to say that I hadn't read it either (*shock*) but you mentioned Flossie, at which I realised it was one of the short stories. Was it the one with the no- good American husband and the Russian (or maybe Italian) no- good fake count lover?

Wow, that was hardly concise, but hopefully it conveys enough of my meaning!

Sophie said...

Ah, yes, it is a short story, which probably explains why I wasn't familiar with it (which was at least good in terms of the game!). Yes, it is indeed the one with the no-good husband, although he's English, not American, and the wicked Count is French (my character was his 'companion', haha).

Bloomsbury Bell said...

such a fun idea and your outfit is fabulous - I adore the flapper style and have always wanted to drape about with a cigarette holder. Yummy looking food as well!

Sophie said...

Thank you! Yes, it was a lot of fun playing around with a cigarette holder, and the food was indeed very yummy.

Paperback Reader said...

I love your outfit! I had such fun at a murder mystery dinner a friend hosted one Hallowe'en; I was so convinced that I was the murderess at the end that I confessed (but it was actually my sister-in-law).

Sophie said...

Thank you! I had a lot of fun dressing up. Your murder mystery party sounds like it was great too, even if you didn't turn out to be the killer!

Jessica said...

Lovely blog post : ) I have played this particular murder-mystery game, some time ago. As I recall, there were too many girls, so I was a male part, fake moustache and all!