You may recognise our actor Lee from playing a crocodile, a shady medium, a dodgy Russian ballet dancer and more in our lockdown murder mysteries on Zoom this year. Here he looks back on a year that didn’t go to plan but 2020 is one we’ll never forget! Over to you, Lee…
On March 14th this year I performed Flat Caps & Murder at Walworth Castle Hotel near Darlington. It was a great night, but there were a few empty seats as people had cancelled due to worries about Coronavirus and being in a small space with other people. It was the first time we’d performed this script and at this venue. It went very well, the audience loved it and Walworth Castle could not have been more helpful and accommodating.
Then, the following Monday, Lockdown struck. All our events were cancelled or postponed. We wondered what we could do. Sara, the wonderful Tall Tales supremo, came up with the idea of an online game – The Disappearance of Kitty Wake. Remotely we all filmed our interview questions and created a wonderful online game for people to play at their leisure. After this success she thought we should give a Zoom Murder Mystery a go.
Tall Tales has always operated with two teams, one in the North and one in the South of the North East of England and North Yorkshire. This was a brilliant opportunity to mix the teams up. At the end of May, we performed our first one – Murder at the Museum – and it was a huge hit. I loved the fact that this was the very first script we ever performed when Tall Tales Mysteries began live performances. It felt right to be starting our online adventure with this script.
In June we were very busy with Murder and Sparkling Wine, Murder in the Wings, Murder at the Museum and Flat Caps & Murder. My family got used to me pretending to be the whacky Tall Tales characters in the dining room on a weekend. The actors got more adept with the technology and it was wonderful to see Sara blossom as the Host, managing both us wayward performers, audience members and technology with aplomb.
July and August saw more performances and as Lockdown was relaxed we slowed down our performances too, but there was an appetite for more. September was another busy month with Murder and the Millionairess, Death at Downturn and Murder and More Sparkling Wine joining the roll call of lockdown murder mysteries being performed.
We were approached by BBC Radio Tees in September about creating a radio version of a Murder Mystery, and Sara leapt at the chance. Murder and Mischief premiered on Matt Bailey’s Thursday evening show and went down an absolute storm, so much so that Murder and Mischief joined our zoom mystery list in October as a Hallowe’en special. Along with Murder is Frightful we ensured that people were thrilled and scared in equal measure.
November and December have gone by in a whirlwind of Christmas parties, corporate events and laughter. We’ve had new actors join us and fit in beautifully. In two weeks in December, Tall Tales Mysteries performed 30 shows, something we could never have achieved in person at our live events.
While 2020 has been tough for lots of us, the support of my Tall Tales Mysteries colleagues has helped me feel connected and given me a focus for my energies. Yes, I still miss the thrill of an in-person real life performance, but I am loving the lockdown murder mysteries on Zoom. We have fans from across the UK and the world too, we have truly gone international.
To end, I’d like to thank Sara for allowing me to be included in the merriment that is Tall Tales Mysteries, an absolute pleasure for me and a thrill too. To my fellow actors, Viv, Sharon C, John, Fiona, Kathryn, Simon, Peter, Stefan, Michelle, Aja, Charles, Lewis, Jordan, Malcolm, Sadie, Helen, Alan and Sharon F, thank you for the laughter, the sheer joy you’ve brought to me over this year. To my family, thank you for putting up with me sitting in the dining room pretending to be a Russian ballet dancer, a Scouse medium and a depressed West Country crocodile, it was wonderful to see you on screen joining in. Finally, thank you to our audiences, because without you we would have no-one to perform to.
Tall Tales Mysteries has kept people together whilst staying apart, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.
Here’s to a healthy 2021 and to getting live events going again.