Topped in the Big Top

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Ivor Whiplash, Ringmaster and owner of the Burnem and Barley Circus, has been found lying face down in the sawdust of the Big Top with a knife in his back. His stockwhip lay by his right hand and he is undoubtedly very dead!

But who clipped his ticket? Who cancelled his contract?

All the performers have been assembled in the booking office. It is time to call in Detective Inspector Miles A. Head.

But can you help him work out whodunnit?

By buying this product you can collect up to 41 loyalty points, which will be worth £2.05 to spend on your next purchase.

Characters in the 6 player game:

Koffey the Clown – Typical circus clown.
Flamboyant makeup with a painted smile, brightly coloured uniform and bowler hat and a large bow tie. He has a bandaged right hand.

Xavier Fallin – Trapeze artiste par excellence.
Of Russian descent. Speaks with a strong accent. Wears a leotard covered with a large flowing cloak.

Angel Wings – Trapeze artist, partner to Xavier Fallin.
Dressed in a spangled costume and white sparkly tights.

Dirk Hurlitt – Knife-thrower.
A full-blood Romany wearing a red bandana, wide-sleeved shirt cinched in at the waist with a red sash, silk neckerchief and black breeches fastened at the ankles.

Ella Vated – High Wire-walker.
Wears a black catsuit and soft shoes. Her hair is slicked back to give her a streamlined but severe appearance.

Amy Strate – Knife-thrower’s assistant.
Dressed in a gypsy blouse and bandana, coloured leggings or tights with hot pants and low heeled shoes.

Additional characters in the 8 player game:

Molly Coddler – Matron/nurse.
The resident “medic”, attending to all the first aid and palliative treatment of the performers and staff. Dressed as a nursing sister complete with hat, belt and black tights.

Bernie Le Bouche – Fire-eater.
Long-haired but clean shaven. Dressed in medieval jester-style tunic, tights and hat. He has a bandage on his right hand.

Additional characters in the 10 player game:

Phil Mabiceps – The circus strongman.
Big and very strong. Dressed in a leopard skin leotard and boxer boots. Often carries a hand weight to exercise his muscles.

Hi Lee Supple – Chinese acrobat and contortionist.
Fit, slim and very able, she wears a one piece catsuit or leotard decorated with sequins and beads. She has a dragon tattoo (actually a transfer) on her back and silk ribbon streamers attached to her wrists.

Additional characters in the 12 player game:

Hairy Mary – Bearded lady.
As her name suggests she sports a full beard and moustache but she is obviously a large-busted woman wearing a floral dress and high-heeled shoes. She wears a gardenia in her smartly styled hair.

Orson Ryder – Bareback rider.
French by birth but has spent so many years in the circus that most of his accent has faded, although it is still just discernible. He wears a cowboy shirt, trousers, chaps, boots and a stetson hat.

Never run a downloadable murder mystery before? Then don’t panic!There is no special acting required. Guests do not need to memorise any information, and everything they need to play their parts is provided to them in a handy printable booklet. The games are constructed so that everyone has to interact, and scripted dialogues are included to help break the ice and get everyone into character. Even total novices get into the swing of things quite quickly!

The game includes both sound files and a script for the inspector character who provides the setting, clues, and summaries for each round, as well as the final solution. This means as host you too can play and remain completely in the dark as to the culprit, or play the inspector yourself and invite an extra guest to the party!

Each downloadable dinner party game requires use of a printer, around 120 sheets of A4 paper (each character booklet is around 9 pages long), envelopes so you can send out your invitations, and either a laptop or MP3 player (e.g. an ipod) to play the inspector MP3s; OR a CD burner so you can burn the MP3s onto a CD to run in an ordinary CD player.

When you purchase this kit you will download the following files:

  • How to use this game
  • Instructions for running the murder mystery
  • Making the most of your theme- ideas for decoration / activities.
  • Invitations
  • Character Booklets (available in single sided printer and double sided printer format)
  • Scripted for the inspector character (available in single sided printer and double sided printer format)
  • Solution script for the inspector character (needed when printing from the single sided copy)
  • MP3 files for the inspector character (dialogue and solution)
  • Hints and tips
  • Recipe suggestions
  • Money off voucher towards next purchase

When you purchase this kit as a printed kit you will receive through the post:

  • Instruction booklet (includes hints and tips)
  • Invitations and envelopes for all the guests
  • Character booklets
  • CD of the inspector
  • Inspector booklet in a sealed envelope so you don’t find out the solution by accident!
  • Making the most of your theme and recipe suggestions booklets.
  • Money off voucher towards next purchase (printed inside the booklets)

We can customise this game.  However, sadly we do have to charge for this service as even minor customisations take between 1-2 hours to process in the office and we need to buy toilet roll and biscuits as much as the next person…

It’s hard to give “ball park” figures for what different customisations would cost however we’ve attempted to HERE.

Remember… if you just need 1 extra person, or 1 less person, why not add in the inspector as your extra guest.  The inspector can usually be male or female as the “for real” inspector can simply invent a new name for themselves.

Some hosts prefer to play the inspector role as it means they can work on the catering while the round plays out amongst their guests.

2 reviews for Topped in the Big Top

  1. This Halloween, I decided to try a different theme, instead of the usual “ghosts and goblins” type Halloween murder mystery. I went for “Topped in the Big Top” and I decorated for a “Circus of Horrors” type setting complete with evil clowns and so forth. The decorations came out great. This was our third Red Herring Party and as the saying goes: “three times the charm.” My guests had a blast. The characters are very colorful and fun to play. The bearded lady, the clown, and the trapeze artist were among the highlights. The scripts were funny, and as always simple to use. These games are great for both beginners as well as murder mystery party veterans looking for something different. If you’re in the mood to try a unique setting, something a little different from the standard type games out there, give this one a try. It was great fun. I played as the game’s host, but instead of using the scripts as written for the inspector, I dressed up as the victim, Ivor Whiplash, and portrayed his ghost who was seeking revenge for his death. If the party didn’t solve his murder before midnight on Halloween, he would haunt the circus troupe forever. It worked out great and added to the Halloween theme. We served a variety of carnival food, (hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, candy apples) and we had a variety of carnival games to play between rounds, such as a ring toss game, and a betting wheel. The party was a success! The biggest mystery now is deciding which Red Herring game to try next.

  2. The fun began from the moment the guests started to arrive. All those playing character parts really got into the spirit and as the circus theme gives so much scope for dressing up the costumes were wonderfully imaginative and colourful. The story line was clear and convincing and the full instructions ensured a thoroughly enjoyable experience. They say that laughter is the best medicine and we were treated to plenty of that without prescription! -The most frequently heard comment as the guests were leaving was – “When’s the next one?”

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Earn up to 41 Loyalty Points.

This game is rated Mature
This game contains:

Content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older.
A murder - violence suggested.
Violence - mentions of physical assault
Drugs - Mentions of drugs
Love tangles.
Comic Mischief - Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor.
Suggestive Themes - Mild provocative references or materials and sexual innuendo.


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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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