Thank you so much for booking on one of my Original Murder Weekends. I am so pleased that you will be joining the many thousands of people in our ‘Murder Weekend Family’. It’s hard to believe this is my 136th new plot since we performed the very first ever Murder Weekend, on 30th October 1981, beginning a worldwide industry of interactive Murder Mysteries.
Crikey, 37 years, where did they go? I am so thankful to still be here after so long and am very much looking forward to entertaining you with our unique brand of murder, mayhem and most importantly, laughter! I hope you love the plot and enjoy all the many twists and turns that I promise there will be.
If this is your first time, we really hope that you thoroughly enjoy the experience and that we live up to your expectations. If you’ve been before, thank you so much for returning, welcome back and thank you for spreading the word!
Each Original Murder Weekend plot is based around a fictitious theme which is the vehicle to explain why a group of strangers would all meet up together in a hotel for the weekend. We hope that you, our very welcome guests, will enjoy playing along with the main characters in our plot. I always try to create a really fun theme where we can all stretch our imagination and become people that we’re not, both actors and guests – and I hope that I’ve come up with a theme where we can all get really involved.
This year has definitely been the year of the musical, with Hamilton arriving on the West End to great fanfare, The Greatest Showman taking the cinema and music chart by storm, and now with Mamma Mia opening in more cinemas than any previous film, musicals seem to be the genre of the moment. I adore musicals and have done since I was a small child when I was taken to see ‘Hello Dolly’ in London by my Mum and Dad. And after seeing ‘The Sound of Music’, I literally became Maria, singing all the lyrics 24/7, driving my parents insane I’m quite sure, but my passion for musicals was ignited. When I looked back at the list of my plots, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done a Musical based theme, and so am proud to present to you – SOS: The Somewhere Over Society.
The fictitious theme for this 136th plot is all about an Amateur Musical Theatre Society called SOS – every year they mount three productions, but with finances low, they are holding a fundraising weekend for the 2019 season. Their winter musical is in production and already temperatures are rising. As with many previous productions, the members are beginning to revolt; the good actors that missed the cut at auditions, the set designer that is very ‘well-in’ with the Director, but definitely not the best that the Society has to offer, the 2018 production of West Side Story has more underlying tension that the musical itself!
Elspeth Banyard and her husband Jake Smythe – have for years been the doyennes of SOS, taking it in turns to direct the three musicals that the society puts on each year. They are good, but they and their clique have a stronghold on what happens in the Society. There are many great members, who given the chance would yank their productions into the 21st century! The best singers are passed over in auditions because ‘E’ and ‘J’ have their own favourites, who never disagree with their director friend’s decisions!
Every year the Society has a summer fund raising weekend. They pay over the odds for their tickets and celebrate the money that has been raised over the year through raffles and other fundraisers. Although locally the shows sell well, they only run for three days as they are sold out to regular members and local residents. But if they were to put on better shows, they could run for longer, sell better and earn enough to keep the Society running without constant fund raising activities.
What we’d like you to do is to create a story as to what sort of member you are: a great singer, who only ever gets cast in the chorus; or a set designer who does what they’re asked, but whose brilliant ideas are never listened to. You may hate musicals but every three months your life is ruined because your partner is squirreled away in their sewing room making many of the costumes for the show. Love them or hate them, there are many reasons you could be connected to The Somewhere Over Society.
Don’t worry too much about the theme, of if musicals really aren’t your thing. It is just a fun vehicle to explain why a group of total strangers would meet at a hotel and, once the murders start, it quickly fades into the background as you turn sleuth to deduce the reasons and motives for a series of untimely deaths. We do hope you will enjoy playing along with the main characters, but you won’t be quizzed on your role, unless you want to be! And once the murders begin, it is for you to quiz our characters!
We always have a colour theme on Friday night and the obvious choice is Rainbow colours, after all, the society is named after Somewhere Over the Rainbow, one of the most popular musical songs of all time. It’s weird but whenever I decide on a theme, I see it everywhere. I don’t know whether I just start noticing, or whether that is a current trend, but in every magazine I have seen bags, ties, dresses, shirts and t-shirts with rainbows on, so even if you haven’t got something in your wardrobe you should be able to find something in the local Primark or similar shop. If you don’t want to wear specific rainbows, you could always wear the brightest clothes that you can find in your wardrobe – but just be comfortable, that is the number one consideration!
As usual, throughout the weekend, there will be some great themed games, with prizes for the winning tables (but not for ‘Googlers’!!). None of them are complicated but just a light-hearted way to get you chatting to your fellow guests to break the ice and alleviate the stress on your brains from trying to make sense of the dastardly deeds – after all, if we were only sitting around talking about murder, it could get quite deep and dark and what we most enjoy on Murder Weekends is to laugh!
Nothing is compulsory on Murder Weekends, so if you’d rather sit out a game, go for a snooze or visit the Incident Room to study the evidence, that’s absolutely fine. But remember there is always quite a lot of action and we have to do that when all the guests are assembled. This is usually over mealtimes and also when we’re marking games, so even if you don’t play, do come back, otherwise you may miss something vital that’s related to the plot, like another murder!
On Saturday night, there will be a fun themed party and for this plot it will be the ‘I am what I am’ Fancy Dress Party! The idea is for you to come as your favourite song from a musical – even if you haven’t got a favourite musical, or in fact hate them. It’s easy to Google musicals and don’t limit your search, after all Disney films are virtually all musicals – ‘Bare Necessities’, ‘ The Circle of Life’, ‘Time of my Life’ from Dirty Dancing – there are literally thousands to choose from.
You could wear black trousers and shirt, with a white dog collar and come as ‘A Little Priest’ from ‘Sweeney Todd’; you could have photos of knobs stuck on to a shirt and carry a broomstick ‘Bed knobs and Broomsticks’ from the Disney film of the same name.
Over the years we’ve found that the simplest ideas are often the best and many of our guests say that half the fun is creating their costume before the Weekend to get them in the mood. Please don’t hire anything unless you want to, we’d hate you to spend any money on what is, after all, just a bit of fun which always causes amusement and is a great photo opportunity for our guests. If you do get stuck, give Geri a ring at our office and she’ll help you with some ideas.
The Murder plot lasts for the entire weekend and the actors will be in character from the welcome reception on Friday night until the end of the summing up on Sunday. Over the course of the weekend there will be at least three murders in the complex plot and so that no one misses anything, they usually occur when everyone is together. Saturday morning is free and you won’t miss anything by going out shopping or visiting the local places of interest, but do pop in to the Police Incident Room to see the first pieces of evidence before you go out. Although the police will have announced on their arrival that no one is allowed to leave the hotel – I’m sure they’ll turn a blind eye!!
We know you’ll have a lot of fun no matter how you decide to play the game, but for those of you who are keen sleuths and want to solve the crime, I have enclosed some tips to help. It is also a good idea to bring along a small notepad and pen to jot down conversations you overhear or evidence you think is important.
As we’ve already explained, the main reason for the plot theme is so we can all role-play and get involved, which adds to the realism of the characters and, consequently, the plot. If there’s anything that you’re unsure of before the weekend, please do not hesitate to ring us at the Murder Weekend office.
We very much look forward to meeting you on Friday at the Welcome Reception at 8.00pm, before dinner at 8.30 pm. We hope you have a marvellous time and manage to crack the case, which will be solved when the Detective makes an arrest at 12 noon on Sunday, before we check out at 12.30pm.