If the enduring popularity of moody crime thrillers (hello, Mare of Easttown) intersecting with our collective isolation has taught us anything, it’s that we're all partial to stories of salacious murder, larger-than-life characters (special nod to Tiger King), and a bit of amateur sleuthing.
Pre-pandemic, if you wanted to get a little more hands-on with an investigation, you could channel your big detective energy into a good ol' fashioned murder mystery party (like they do in cute Rose Matafeo-led series Starstruck, currently streaming on ABC iview, FYI). What a shame you can’t invite your mates over for a nail-biting night of scripted fun under current conditions, eh? Think again.
Just when you thought Cluedo-style mysteries would be limited to figuring out who got into your stash of quarantine snacks (was it the bored housemate with the unsanitised hands in the kitchen cabinet?), UK company Red Herring Games has come through.
Describing itself as a provider of “the best in murder mystery entertainment”, Red Herring’s multilayered games can now be adapted for virtual gatherings with the assistance of video conferencing applications like Zoom or Google Hangouts. They have games suitable for smaller groups of 6-20 people, kids parties, and larger groups that can break off into multiple rooms.
There are some hilarious and just-shy-of-copyright-infringing themes to choose from. The Great British Bump Off is certainly brimming with surprise fillings, Murder on the Disorientated Express sounds like a hoot (toot, toot!), we bet Death Actually has plenty of thrilling tangents, and we certainly want to go up to the lab and see what's on the slab at the Little Rock Horror Shop of Murder!
While Red Herring provides you with all the (digital) materials to make your evening of murder mystery delights happen, the organiser does need to take on a certain level of initiative to facilitate the goings-on. Characters must be assigned, and booklets and scripts are to be distributed.
As for fancy dress, how much effort goes in here is totally up to your cohort. You may delight in the excuse to suit up or pop on some red lippy and go full femme fatale after weeks schlepping around in a messy top knot and trackie dacks. You can also choose a more modern theme, or forgo costumes together if you aren’t bothered (but we dare say, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is into murder mystery parties that wouldn’t also be into an excuse to get dressed up).
Murder mystery party packs start at $41.78. Head to the Red Herring Games website to peruse the options.