Musical murder mystery

Queen’s Musical Theatre brings Charles Dickens’ last work to the stage

The mysterious disappearance of Edwin Drood casts suspicions on several characters. Audience members cast votes to choose who the murderer is.
The mysterious disappearance of Edwin Drood casts suspicions on several characters. Audience members cast votes to choose who the murderer is.

The version I saw of QMT’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood likely ended differently than the one you will see. The musical requires audience participation in deciding who murdered Edwin Drood.

Charles Dickens was in the process of writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood when he died, leaving the ending unfinished. Readers are stuck with many questions, including if Edwin Drood is even dead.

QMT’s director Radissen Ramoutar, ArtSci ’12, said there are hundreds of possible endings, but for the cast there is only a few conclusions they come to. The audience gets to vote on who will be the detective and who is guilty of the murder.

The choose-your-own-mystery play isn’t relaxing. From the moment you walk into Convocation Hall you’re inundated with characters wanting to talk to you, asking you where you are from and if you’ve been informed of the voting procedures. Throughout the play the audience must sing along, become the butt of sexual jokes and even dance with characters.

Kudos goes out to the cast for maintaining their characters during breaks in the production — they even speak to you in their English accents during intermission. If you’re someone who likes to sit back and watch, this isn’t for you. The Mystery of Edwin Drood demands the enthusiasm and attention of its audience in order for it to be a success.

The play is dominated by varied male performances, from villain John Jasper played to creepy perfection by Richard Albin, ArtSci ’13, to the enthusiastic Chairman played by Dylan On, ArtSci ’13, who leads the show.

Hannah May, ArtSci ’13, as Helena Landless is the stand-out female. Her range of facial expressions draws your attention in every group scene.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is at its most entertaining when all 18 cast members are on stage, pulling off complex jigs in spite of the tiny stage.

It’s quite impressive no one tripped or fell off with the ladies wearing long, flowing skirts and high heels. With such a zany cast of characters the audience is never without a new person to be drawn in by.

The energy of the cast is much needed towards the end of the unnecessarily long play. Just when I thought it was ending, another song dragged the musical further. At over two hours in length, extraneous scenes and prolonged audience participation should’ve been cut to make the play more pithy.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood runs at Convocation Hall until Saturday and will run again from Jan. 19 to 21 at 8 p.m. There are Saturday shows on Jan. 14 and 21 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 for students and seniors and $20 for adults.

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