Spirit of Glasgow is a Trip Advisor-recommended company that immerses its guests in mystery and second-guessing, all while enjoying a good meal with friends. Through clever costumes, interwoven red herrings, and improv skills that would put anyone at the West End to shame, Spirit of Glasgow is nothing short of a good time for all.
This month, I got to attend my very own Victorian Christmas-themed murder mystery in Glasgow. I also got to sit down with the leader of Spirit of Glasgow, Caroline Gallagher, to talk about the murder mystery party industry.
The Party: A Christmas Tree Murder!
When guests first arrive, they’re sat at tables and split up into teams. Each team is instructed to choose a leader and is given some background information on all the characters that they will be seeing tonight – as well as a drink or two to get the merry time started.
When the starters arrive Caroline comes out in modern dress to go over the rules and how the rest of the show is going to play out. Once they’re finished, the show begins!
The date is 14th December 1861. Victoria and the rest of the royal family are having a pre-Christmas celebration. Victoria and Albert have asked the press to come and take photographs of the happy family celebration for Christmas… Alas though, all is not well… There is a Murder! (I won’t go too much more into the actual details of the event and how it all plays out. If you’re curious, you should make a booking!)
Before the mains are brought out, a constable with Scotland Yard emerges and explains that all the guests are being recruited to help solve this mystery. During the main course, a table full of potential evidence is laid out for team leaders to peruse and speculate on between bites.
After dinner and before the dessert is brought out, the cast of characters is brought back out and each team is allowed to ask one question to a member of the cast. Then once all of the questions are asked and answered, desert is served and the teams are asked to write down who they think the murderer is, how they did it, and why.
Once all the teams’ guesses have been gathered up, the Scotland Yard constable goes through them to see which, if any, team guessed correctly on who the murderer was and to award the winning team with the prize of the night.
After the event I sat down with the event runner Caroline Gallagher to talk about the murder mystery industry.
Cooper: Thank you so much for letting me attend. It was so much fun to watch!
Caroline (Dressed as Queen Victoria): Oh, you’re very welcome.
Cooper: So who comes to these kind of events? What’s your client base?
Caroline: It’s mostly people who want to have a spot of fun. Companies will often book shows as a company party. We get quite a lot of hen dos as well.
Cooper: How do you come up with the story lines for these murders?
Caroline: Well a lot of the stories that we do are historically based because that’s what I studied in University. I don’t come from an acting background myself. This story that we did tonight is based on the actual Victoria and her deceased husband, Albert.
Cooper: How do you find actors for these kind of things?
Caroline: It’s mostly referrals from other actors really. We’re a pretty close knit community here so everyone tends to know one another.
Cooper: Have you ever had any problems with actors in the past?
Caroline: Not at all. We’re kind of like a little family here. It’s a bit different here than other kinds of acting. It’s less competitive since no one is fighting for an audition. I can think of only one problem actor I’ve had in about fifteen years or so that was any real trouble.
Cooper: How often do you guys have to rehearse all of this? There seem to be quite a number of lines and staging to go through.
Caroline: We actually hardly rehearse at all. We all know our lines before we get here and in the half hour before guests arrive we’ll do a run through. Sometimes we’ll come an hour earlier if the venue is pretty big and we need to be mic’d up. The main thing you need in shows like this is some pretty strong improvisational skills. Especially during the questioning portion since it’s the one time in the performance where you can’t predict what’s going to be asked of you.
Cooper: Are some audiences easier to handle than others?
Caroline: Some audiences can get quite rowdy at times. Hen dos are usually the crazier of the bunch. But when you get people who are looking to have a good time, let off a little steam and put a few drinks in them, they tend to need a little calming down. Which goes back into the importance of improv skills. You’ll also get people who take the game a little too seriously. There was one person who was looking for facial tics and pointing out things that didn’t matter to the actual story. People can get quite competitive.
Cooper: I know you have a Christmas themed murder running right now due to the season, but what other kinds of events do you host?
Caroline: We have a wide range of events. We have horror walks that run around Halloween, treasure hunts, and we even have run-of-the mill city tours.
Cooper: Thank you again for letting me attend this event.
Caroline: You’re very welcome.
If you want to know more about murder mysteries or even book your own party, be sure to visit Caroline’s website, Spirit of Glasgow!