Adapting Multi-room games for single room use.

While we provide most of our games as “single room” murder mysteries already – and that’s often where we send someone when they’re looking for a single room scripted game – there are also times when that style of event with acting “in the round” just isn’t appropriate.

Usually this change from a standard single room performance, to a need to adapt one of our multi-room games is led by a requirement for an event for a REALLY large number of people (more than 200).  When you have big groups like this – it becomes impractical for cast to mix with the audience, or for the audience to easily see / hear what’s going on within a standard “staged” show.

When this happens – adapting a multi-room murder mystery becomes a practical solution to what might otherwise become a total nightmare!

The reasons for this are:

  1. The scripts are often “monologues” or at most “duologues” making microphoning up the cast much simpler – as you only need 1 or 2 microphones – something many large venues have access to as standard.
  2. The cast can’t circulate so you need an event that keeps everyone involved, but isn’t too unweildy to run – which is where the clues within this game come into their own – as instead of using real props – you can simply photograph the crime scene clues and prop clues and provide them to each table in an envelope for them to review keeping them engaged and with something to do at the tables.
  3. You can “stage” questions – either creating your own, or asking for the tables to write down their questions and then posing them on stage to the cast on mass or individually.
  4. There is very little overlapping dialogue in the parts (only two of the cast share a duologue) which means that people can rehearse their lines in isolation.  This is great for those with very little free time to rehearse!
  5. The games are rigged for audience participation and so, even though it is acted on stage, guests can still take a very active role in solving the case if they want, or simply enjoy the acting if not.

So how do you run an event for over 200 in one room with limited resources and actors using one of our Multi-room scripts?

There are 2 main ways (more if you get creative) which are detailed below – but before I get to that you need to ask yourself a few questions…

Firstly:

Make a decision as to how much effort you want to make on the set (s).

You can either use multiple sets decorated as the different rooms in the game.

Or use one key room from the game to act as a backdrop.

Or use an interview room at a police station.

Secondly:

Make a decision on how you plan on presenting the clues:

Do you want detectives to find the clues on stage in the set before placing them on an evidence table for guests to review?

Or do you simply want the clues left on an evidence table?

Or do you want to create a crime scene board guests can refer to?

Or do you simply want to take photographs of all the clues “in situ” and then present them to the guests in envelopes as photos from the crime scene so each table can have a set of their own.

Thirdly:

Decide on how much alteration you want to make to the scripts you have been given.  Often a few minor adjustments will make the scripts work from the stage (i.e. cutting out any references to visiting investigators.)

But you may want to write in more interaction than that and may want to create some full scripts for the cast to share together and have an introductory scene which introduces the murder.

Fourthly:

Decide how you want the audience to participate in solving the case.  Will cast visit guests at the tables for in depth cross examining, or do you want the tables to submit questions for the investigators to pose to the cast during the night?

The two most obvious ways to adapt the game are detailed below (you may think of more):

Remember, these aren’t the only way of presenting the mystery.  You will probably be able to come up with a few more methods depending on your budget, time and creativity!  These are simply a guide.  If you need further advice, please contact us at Red Herring Games and we will try to help where we can.  All game files can be provided in MS Word for easy alteration.

Using Multiple sets (staging) from the main stage:

Have a different set corresponding to the rooms mentioned in the instructions.

At the start of a scene have the cast member on stage in “their room”.   Have one or two people come onto the set dressed as detectives / policemen and simply have the cast member recite their monologue as they would if it were a multi-room game.  (The detectives don’t have to learn any lines!)

At the end of the monologue either ask the audience which of the questions they want the cast to answer (either by voting or some other system) or just get one of the detectives to pose the correct question so that the cast member answers their question.

If you want more audience participation then get the audience to cross examine the cast at their tables using the guest handout questions as their starting place.

The detectives could go around the room locating the clues mentioned within the game.  Every time they find one they should hold it up to a nominated chief who does no searching (this could be the person who will read the solution script later in the evening) and say something like “Sir!” the chief then says, “Take it as evidence” or something similar.

You then simply do the same for every room/set.  You as host will decide what order you are going to “interview” the cast in.

At the end of the scene all clues are placed on a large evidence table with the clue labels attached.  You should also write on the clue labels where the item was found.  (i.e. what room and where exactly.)  You might want to add a picture of the crime scene which you could have set up prior to the event with an appropriate chalk outline.

After all the monologues have been spoken you can then ask the guests to come up with their own questions and these can either be read to the cast on stage later in the evening for them to answer, or the cast can move around the tables and the guests can ask any questions they want to ask then.

The solution is provided at the end of the night as normal.

Using a single set on the stage:

Using a single set is easier to set up physically, but requires more work for the host in terms of re-writing the monologues.

Using a single set option you need only have one detective (use the same one who reads the solution script at the end).

Either have the set decorated as an interview room, or simply pick one of the set rooms to use as a backdrop.

The detective calls in each of the cast in turn and asks them to give a statement.  You will need to edit the monologues to remove any references to the guests, or other references that do not fit with this scenario.

After each member of cast has recited their lines then the detective can either ask them the correct question to illicit their answer, or again it can be thrown to the guests to get them to pick which question the cast member should answer.

The evidence will have been collected in advance and should be left on the evidence table with clue labels which include the information of where it was found and a photograph of the crime scene.

After all the monologues have been spoken you can then ask the guests to come up with their own questions and these can either be read to the cast on stage later in the evening for them to answer, or the cast can move around the tables and the guests can ask any questions they want to ask then.

The solution is provided at the end of the night as normal.

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Flexible and fun!

We contacted Red-Herring-Games for a party for a special occasion. Why going to restaurants to eat is the preferred activity to mark milestones is beyond me and my friends.   The choice of mystery was obvious, looking at the options from New Zealand on the web Red Herring stuck out from the international options.  A quick look at the site and games showed subtlety as well a range of choices.  The numbers you could have for each evening was important,  Red Herring had scaling options a good range of scenarios but most importantly were Jo and team being flexible, responsive and helpful.

Rachel McWilliam, Arts Development Officer, Lincs Inspire

Thank you Red Herring Games for the marvellous 'Murder!  Cargo Connections?' event that you organised for us as part of Museums at Night at the Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. The whole evening went so well and was brilliant fun.  I know from all the feedback that our visitors had a fantastic time. It was really good working with you and I have no doubt that we will do again in the not too distant future.  

A. Nonymous (council employee)

I would like to thank you and your colleague for helping contribute towards our successful conference last month.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy the evening and it was rewarding that so many delegates were able to participate in addition to the main "Actors".  Our conference evaluation froms included the following comments:
  • "Enjoyed the evening entertainment!"
  • The evening entertainment was great and the confusion made it great fun!"
With thanks and best wishes.

Sarah Spencer (Cleethorpes Chronicle)

I had no idea what to expect before purchasing a ticket for Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, which was being staged at a nearby hotel, and feared it might involve taking part in some way. However thankfully for me no acting was necessary, just some amateur sleuthing. "Wedding guests" of which I was one, were called upon to move from room to room in the hotel in groups, questioning a number of possible murderers with the aim of solving the mystery of the dead bridegroom. The interviewees were really fun characters and gave us all some good laughs. Of course they all had motives and it was a case of identifying the shiftiest. The wedding theme was particularly good, as it fitted well with the venue, the buffet that was part of the evening (with a wedding cake in the middle) and the fact that everyone had been able to dress up to fit in without going to the trouble of fancy dress. I didn't think I had enough "evidence" to actually accuse anyone but later regretted not even writing down my first guess as it wouldn't have been too far off the mark. The evening was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it and take part. I would definitely recommend Old, New, Borrowed, Blue as good for getting even reluctant or first-time mystery party-goers involved.  

Alan Young (Personal Touch Mortgages)

What a cracking nights entertainment! We don't get out much nowadays with 2 kids and this was exactly what we were looking for in a good night out. Lots of fun with tongue firmly in cheek and everyone kept guessing whodunnit right to the very end. Would definitely attend another!!!!!  

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