One upside of being in enforced lockdown is finding theatre companies I have never heard of and experiencing their broadcasts from home. Laugh and Let Die is one such company – they are Manchester-based and do small-scale murder mysteries with a touch of comedy around the country.
When I received an email invite from company director Rob Ireland to join in the fun of his one-man show from home, titled Game of Groans, I thought why not give it a go? It’s via Facebook Live (and also uses the company’s other social media accounts for supplementary clues: clever!).
The Facebook account has a bit of background about the characters we will be meeting (with “dodgy acting, dodgy accents” and even dodgier wigs). It’s in real time – I missed the first bit of broadcast due to the platforms inability to tell you when a live stream begins – and so there are lengthy periods of looking at a screen while costume changes occur with a bit of running commentary improv.
Taking inspiration loosely from mega TV hit Game of Thrones, this show, running 75 minutes, introduces us to one King Banoflee and a handful of possible suspects in his eventual murder and dismemberment. He had lost his wife to a bout of “falling-off head disease”, you see, so dastardly deeds are afoot.
Audience participation is key to this genre of show, and without the benefit of a live audience, Facebook Chat is used instead, with comments, questions, reaction buttons and emojis. There was also a fair bit of banter around accents, costumes, and more: all good-natured enough and gave a sense of community to the proceedings.
If I was to consider this as a finished product, the murder took a while to happen and the changeovers between characters took a while, but fair play to Ireland who gamely took on this project with a variety of amusing characterizations and a script which had plenty of laughs once it settled.
If you like your lockdown entertainment to be a bit daft, and enjoy joining in from your keyboard without the need to use fancy tech like Zoom, this might be a viable alternative. Keep an eye on Laugh And Let Die’s Facebook for more.
Donations received for these shows (optional, pay what you like) go to Manchester Mind, a mental health charity. You can support them via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/robert-ireland2.