Gripping whodunnit wins House drama competition

Gripping whodunnit wins House drama competition

Leicester House won the end-of-year drama competition with a compelling tale of below-stairs intrigue and the murder of an abusive master – all told in less than 10 minutes.

Each of QE’s six Houses created and performed a short piece entitled A London Mystery, which they had to base on a short extract of the play, Sherlock Holmes, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Gillette.

The performers were from Years 7-9, with the directors mainly from Year 10. They performed to the rest of Year 7 and a panel of staff judges.

Drama Co-ordinator Elaine White said: “I was delighted with the amount of effort and creativity that went into these performances. The boys had very limited adult input and had to learn a great deal about how to turn an idea into an end-product.

“They came up with a broad range of plots, characters and concepts, from the disappearance of families from High Barnet station through to the theft of the Crown Jewels on the eve of the Coronation.

“The judges unanimously adjudged Leicester House to be the winners for a particularly praiseworthy performance of their murder mystery. The staging was simple, the dialogue clear and the acting strong: Leicester delivered a piece which gripped audience and judges alike.”

Leicester’s plot saw two servants becoming the prime suspects in the murder of their master. Two police inspectors ‘explained’ what had happened, giving motive, means and opportunity – yet each came up with a different version of events although based on the same evidence. The suspense was maintained until the end, when the denouement revealed that the cook was the culprit.

Stapylton were the runners-up, with Underne in third place.

All the Houses had begun with a single-page stimulus document. This started with some brief tips – “Don’t include too many storylines or characters” – and simple instructions, including the 10-minute time limit. Further requirements were that the finished piece must: tell a well-defined story; include one piece of music, and feature one ‘freeze-frame’ moment.

The document featured brief stage directions from the 1899 Sherlock Holmes play, including the setting, “the drawing-room at Edelweiss Lodge, an old house, gloomy and decayed, situated in a lonely district in a little-frequented part of London”.

Boys had to include the following lines of the play’s dialogue at some point in their piece:

‘Pardon, Sir, but one of the servants wishes to speak with you.'
‘I can’t spare the time now.’
‘A nice cup of tea.’

The Leicester House directors were Year 10 pupils Mahdin Choudhury, Maanav Patel and Ryan Ratnam. The actors were Aadarsh Khimasia, of Year 8, Arjun Nirmal (Year 7), Ayush Patel (Year 8), Shivas Patel (Year 8), Yuvann Sayandan (Year 9) and Ethan Solanki (Year 8).

The technical directors for all Houses’ performances were Thomas Mgbor and Hugh Westcott, both of Year 9.