Adam Riches: The Beakington Town Hall Murders
- Murray Robertson
- 20 August 2019
This article is from 2019
A Fringe institution who knows how to corral a crowd
If audience participation was a specialist art form then Adam Riches would be the undisputed grand master. As crowd members file into The Beakington Town Hall Murders it's easy to spot those who know what to expect by their hesitant manner as they warily scan the room for hints of what's to come. No seat is safe, the atmosphere is palpable and Riches thrives off that tension in the air.
It's Christmas, and a creep of tortoises have been massacred by a tombola-spinning murderer. One audience member is the culprit and a man is determined to finger the evil-doer. Returning as longstanding popular character Victor Legit, Riches whittles down his crowd of suspects through a convoluted and preposterous process somewhat akin to a gameshow. It's a typical Riches production: wonderfully imaginative, completely absurd and meticulously planned. While it frequently goes completely awry, he has all the skills at his disposal to make the most of it when that happens.
While his previous shows have roped in large portions of an audience, here he ambitiously involves the entire crowd. As a result there's a little more admin than usual and the resulting downtime spurs some restless souls to forget they're watching a show. But Riches somehow keeps on top of the mayhem as he corrals dozens of folk from every corner of the room. While he knowingly preys on the fear of participation, so many people are involved that it eventually becomes a communal experience. The result is hilarious mayhem from a Fringe institution.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 7.50pm, £11–£14 (£10–£13).