A few weeks ago, it was my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday. In honour of that, we of course, threw her a murder mystery party! When I say we, I mean me… but hey, you know ;)
This murder mystery was kindly gifted to me by a lady named Jo, over at Red Herring Games. The game itself is no longer available to buy (or at least not at the moment, it might be back) but we were offered it any way, in exchange for a review. Always being one to love a new type of murder mystery layout, I jumped at the chance and we were given, Murder at the Manse to try!
When the pack arrived, it looked very well organised. There was a main hosts book, booklets for each character, invitations, along with envelopes and then another sealed envelope with the Inspector’s information in it. This was only to be opened on the day, containing the CD and a booklet for the inspector.
The parts were fairly simple, which made dressing up in costume easy. I have to admit I felt a little bit sorry for Erika as we usually go all out for Birthday Murder Mysteries (previous ones include Alice in Wonderland, Hunger Games, Fairytale etc.) but as with Amy’s a few months before, we did the best we could and it actually turned out great.
Father Twitcher – The Priest of Treddlethorpe All Sinners. A keen birdwatcher, Father Twitcher always comes with a pair of binoculars as well as a dog collar.
Jenny Wren – Newest member of the congregation, Jenny has only recently joined Treddlethorpe All Sinners and is somewhat a mystery but, despite dressing quite plainly to suit her shy nature, she is a bit of a looker!
Eve Stropper – The live-in Irish housekeeper of Father Twitcher. With cloth hat and apron, Eve is a force to be reckoned with, “Will you have a cup of tea? Go on, go on, go on…”
Arthur Jobdone – Caretaker and Handyman. With a tool belt and pockets full of interesting “might come in handy’s” Arthur is a somewhat grubby fix-it man.
Richard Branston – Church Treasurer. Always in a suit and tie, Richard is a bit of a flashy business man.
Teena Biscuit – The church member responsible for tea and coffee. Warm, cuddly and comfortable, Teena is always available as a shoulder to cry on.
Ivan Anorak – Church secretary and avid train spotter. With pen and paper to hand, Ivan is always available to take minutes, devise a rota, or sort out room bookings. With his trusty thermos and wet weather gear, he is prepared for any conditions.
The theme was basically a murder within a church congregation, though at the Father’s house instead of in the church itself. Theming the evening wasn’t very easy but again I tried and I think it turned out okay!
A few days before, the girls and I made some stained glass windows. Although it wasn’t set in the church itself, we figured the Father’s Manse might still have stained glass windows. Then we pinched one of mum’s palm crosses which she still had left from Easter and that was pretty much our decor.
With the table I went for a fairly simple look. It was just a plain tablecloth, with a sort of bring and share to the food, feel. To reduce washing up I chose to have paper plates but in the end I used so many serving plates that it probably didn’t make much difference!
One of the great things about the Red Herring Games, is that their murder mysteries are just slightly flexible with their numbers. For example, our group is usually an odd number and its actually hard to get that. Recently though, one of our friends has not wanted to participate (dressing up and acting got a bit too much I think) so he still comes along to eat and socialise, but doesn’t partake in the game. With 8 people actually attending to play and a CD for the inspector, I was all set to go. However the great things was that the Inspector can actually be a read-in part, so I gave our friend the option to play along (without dressing up!) and he did. This made an 8 player game, 9 players, all at the drop of a hat!
Though I was worried about the theme of the game – I shouldn’t have been. It was actually pretty funny. Everyone seemed to enjoy the simplicity of the style, nothing too complicated or hard to work out. That said, only one person guessed the “murderer” so there was definitely plenty of throw off clues.
The highlight of the evening for me, was by far my brother’s costume AND his acting. He was hilarious and had all of us in stitches all evening. To be honest, we can always rely on him for a good show.
The food I did in three courses, despite it being buffet style. As the rounds are broken up, its always easiest to fit them to courses, so I just had to figure out a way to do that. First round of food was nibbles, second round of food was more the mains and third course was sweet stuff and cake. Everyone was completely stuffed though and our family was eating left overs for days!
It was a great night and though for the most part I know that’s because we have a great group of friends, I also know a good murder mystery helps! While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Murder at the Manse for a birthday party (it is hard to make the theme feel special), I would definitely recommend it for a random dinner party evening. Red Herring Games has a circus themed one that I would definitely love to try, but for now it will have to wait as we already have the next two plans in motion…