Mark Cameron wrote the play Whodunnit [Unrehearsed], with director and longtime friend, Jez Bond. The comedy is presented in July at the Park Theater in London to help raise funds for the venue’s community and awareness work, with Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen lending his talents as a narrator and Skyfall actress. Dame Judi Dench with Voice of the Wireless.
The show also features Gillian Anderson, Ronan Keating, Joanna Lumley, Jason Manford, Neil Morrissey, Catherine Tate, Bradley Walsh and Ruby Wax, who will each perform one of the nights as a guest inspector and get their lines fed. live on stage without ever having read the script.
Preston actress Molly Barton was also cast as the nun, after stepping down from her full-time understudy role. The former Penwortham Girls’ High School student began her career at the London Studio Centre.
Mark, who plays a would-be Italian textile mogul, says guest celebrities are completely in the dark about the show and are simply told to show up an hour before the curtains open and be ready to play a murderous investigator.
He added: “It’s an absolute recipe for disaster. We have people coming to see it three or four times because every performance is different. It sold out, which is absolutely fantastic. It’s a fabulous experience – wonderful for everyone’s sanity..
“So many celebrities do it for free. Some of their agents asked for the script and thought it was a gimmick.”
After enjoying sell-out success with a previous Whodunnit show in 2019, Mark and theater artistic director Jez decided to experiment with their craft in order to raise some extra money.
“Jez had this idea that it would be weird if there was a rogue element to a show and said, ‘What if you had to be line-fed on stage?
“I think we were the only people doing that in theatre. When the detective comes into a murder mystery, they pick up the story. We thought the biggest danger would be that the person who’s supposed to have all the power doesn’t know what’s going on. It would create more comedy.
The show not only helps keep the theater doors open, as it receives no government subsidies, but it also helps defray the costs of working with lesser-known creative talents and running groups for vulnerable people, such as people with dementia. or learning difficulties.
Mark said: “It costs £300,000 a year just to stay afloat. We’re not out of trouble yet – the show will just cover some debt.
“The region is culturally diverse. There are a lot of voices that go unheard. By putting on shows like this that sell out, we can take those risks next year with new voices. The theater does so much for the local community. Being able to help out is absolutely wonderful. I can’t think of a better job.
But comedy isn’t just helping the creatives deal with the financial hit of the lockdown on the performing arts world – but the emotional ones too, with Mark adding: “Three out of four celebrities said they reconnected with an audience and had a room full of laughter boosted their sanity.
“And even now, with the troubling situation in Ukraine, it’s just a little escape space.”