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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

A bloody good time: Murder mystery farce “Bloody Murder” kicked off Theatre MSU’s 50th season with laughs Thursday

Emma Kate Poindexter
Bloody Murder

Zany characters, hyperbolic death scenes, fearful suspense and a creative plot twist can make for an exciting night at the theater. 

“Bloody Murder,” Theatre MSU’s first production of the season, premiered Thursday. The group of students performs again Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The production takes place in McComas Hall Theatre, and tickets are available through the department’s website,

Jo Durst, communication instructor, directs the production. “Bloody Murder” is the second-to-last play Durst directs before she retires in the spring. The production also kicks off Theatre MSU’s 50th season. 

A witty farce of the classic murder mystery set in the 1920s, the play promises over-the-top entertainment for the audience.

Instructor Melanie Harris is the costume designer for Theatre MSU. She said the play is a hilarious murder mystery with ridiculous characters. 

“It is absolutely one of those sort of just laugh out loud sort of funny shows. Whacky characters in whacky situation — really funny, campy, over the top murder mystery- — sort of what would happen if Monty Python did Agatha Christy,” Harris said.

Durst said the play takes an unexpected turn when the characters of an ordinary murder mystery actually discover they are in a fictional story.     “‘Bloody Murder’ is a typical British murder mystery until one of the lead characters tells them that they are in a book and that they’re all clichés and that they’re not real. And so she devises a plan where they stop murdering people and just have a fun weekend,” Durst said with a laugh. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t work out.”

The story centers on the eccentric Lady Somerset. MacKenzie Dunn, freshman architecture major, plays Somerset, a lead role that promises to be unforgettable. 

Dunn said her favorite part about her character is she says what everyone else wants to say.

“She doesn’t hold anything back because she’s in charge, and so she says whatever she wants to,” Dunn said.

Senior communication major Colin Baylot plays Tremaine, another lead character. He said this play is refreshing because it is an outward examination of the murder mystery genre, which is a genre not seen often anymore. According to Baylot, the interactions of the characters allow them to poke fun at the very story of which they are a part.

Danny Ward, freshman communication major, plays a minor character in the production and said this interaction between the characters is the best part about “Bloody Murder.” 

Ward said he believes the small number of characters allows for thorough character development. 

“Each character has that special dynamic with each other, and it’s so much fun to watch that,” he said.

In a production dependent upon character interactions, the cast must have a good working relationship. Durst cast the play and said she believes the cast is a strong group. 

“This class works really very well together. That’s one thing you look for as a director. How would they look as a group on stage? How would they play off each other? They are a very fun cast to work with. They are very hard-working, and I’ve just enjoyed working with them in this production,” Durst said.

Dunn said the sense of humor the cast members share is a key ingredient in their success. 

“It’s a boatload of fun. We don’t have to be super serious. It’s just a bunch of laughs all the time … We still laugh about it,” Dunn said.

The effortless chemistry comes despite the fact the students in “Bloody Murder” are in various majors. Harris said, on average, only about 30 percent of the students in the plays are theatre majors. 

“We have majors from physics, wildlife and fisheries, architecture — I mean wherever … Our productions are for any Theatre MSU student — freshmen or Ph.D.,” Harris said.

No matter which academic background a student comes from, he or she must make a major commitment to be a part of the production. Durst said that the students rehearse five days a week for a total of at least 15 hours a week. 

The cast expects a hilariously entertaining performance to reward all of its hard work. 

Dunn said the audience can expect to laugh a lot. Baylot said attendees can expect shenanigans and murder, and Ward said to expect the unexpected.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
A bloody good time: Murder mystery farce “Bloody Murder” kicked off Theatre MSU’s 50th season with laughs Thursday