Stars look to solve theatre’s fundraiser play

They don’t know whodunnit or their lines!

Friday, 21st January — By Charlotte Chambers

Emma Thompson [Pic Justin Harris]

Emma Thompson will be in Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] at the Park Theatre

DAME Emma Thompson and Sir Ian McKellen are among a stellar cast of big names who are heading onto the stage for a murder mystery in which not only will they not know “whodunnit” – but also what their lines are.

The Park Theatre has set up a 32-day run of a completely unrehearsed show with a different famous face in the main role for each audience.

Lines will be fed to them through an earpiece from somebody backstage.

Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] is part of a fundraiser for the theatre in Finsbury Park which suffered losses during the enforced Covid lockdowns.

Around 40 actors have now jumped at the chance to help out – although the mystery will be extended to the audience, who will not know who the detective for the night is until the curtain goes up.

The Wire’s Clarke Peters (above), Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss, Line of Duty’s Adrian Dunbar, Gillian Anderson, Joanna Lumley and Sue Perkins have all signed up for a go.

All performances will feature the voice of Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Sir Ian McKellen.

Mr Peters said he first became involved with the venue when it opened after he “bought” a seat in the audience, but his connection was later cemented when he also became friends with the eight-year-old theatre’s artistic director Jez Bond after he moved to his neighbourhood.

Having already taken part in a first run of Whodunnit in 2019, Mr Peters knows exactly what he’s getting himself into – but recalled how hard it is to get onstage with no idea what’s going to happen.

He said “there’s nothing fun about it. It’s scary as hell”, before adding that he loved theatre as “there was nothing like it – it’s better than going to the church or the cinema”.

Jez Bond

Mr Peters added: “There’s something exciting about the danger of being there [the theatre], that’s when the audience is on the edge of their seats, laughing their asses off or crying their eyes out – and [as an actor] you’re guiding that.

“It becomes a responsibility as an artist to make sure you use your craft not for your bank account or your ego but for the audience.”

While the show is billed as a farce, he said there could be very poignant and serious moments, depending on what story the actor on the night chooses to share.

Co-writer and director Mr Bond said: “Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] was such a success in 2019, we felt it was only right to bring back the concept; with an utterly new script.

“The support we have had from some of the very biggest names in film, TV, music and theatre has absolutely blown us away and we’re delighted and honoured to see a huge number of returning Inspectors as well as the terrific new ones who have come on board.”

The shows start on February 9.

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