Within the first few minutes, a murder has been committed. Famous author Jeremy Weeks is found dead, and everyone on board the ship seems to have not only a motive, but a weapon to hand.
We then see flashbacks to a number of scenes that happened just before the crime, each of which gives a clue as to what might have happened.
Despite the title of the play, the action happens in September 2018 and very little is made of the local connection. In fact, this ship comes across as more Titanic than ss Great Britain, with a tragic storyline, an incompetent captain and a long to-do list of repairs.
The four on-stage actors from Oooh Arrr Productions do a good job with the material: there is plenty of vocal range here and some good characterisation. Petra Jones plays the histrionic Rose Weston with vigour, while Ashleigh Edwards is entertainingly bitter as the ship’s lone cook Sarah Clevedon and Steve Huggins is a convincing Captain. Petra Schofield clearly delights in her role hamming up the elderly Audrey Perkins.
However, this hardworking cast are somewhat let down by a weak script that, in particular, fails to deliver in the closing stages when the murderer simply confesses. It’s a disappointing end to what could have been an intriguing evening. Attention to detail in the props would also help to lend this a more believable air.
Nevertheless, if you like your plays melodramatic and straightforward this hour-long drama might be up your street.
Murder Mystery on the ss Great Britain runs at the Alma Tavern Theatre until Saturday, Nov 3. For more info, visit www.getawriggleon.com/guides/bristol/alma-tavern-theatre/events