Killer queens in murder mystery
Fatal Femmes

Fatal Femmes: A Whodunnit About the Wrath of Women Scorned
3.5 stars
Black Flamingo

"Are there any single men here?," Bunny asked us while we waited in line. Wielding an enormous knife and a borderline-psychotic smile, the Queen of Knives had us in fits of giggles: "Why are there no single men in Perth?"

Fatal Femmes is exactly what it sounds: a Vaudeville-style murder mystery. Narrated by a detective and a clairvoyant, our suspects are four queens: the Queen of Knives, the Queen of Snakes, the Queen of Fire and the Queen of Song. Their alleged victim is Mack, seemingly short for Machiavellian and appropriately slimy, a man who has wronged them all.

Each Queen has her own talent, and there were some genuinely impressive moments of showmanship. Particularly memorable was the moment the audience realised that the Queen of Snakes was, in fact, brandishing a live snake. Squeals could be heard across the tent, though mostly from my side of the room. Despite being potentially the least impressive act, the Queen of Knives' comedy remained my highlight. Her crazed smile and stories of malevolent baking got the most, if the only, laughs of the evening.

Fatal Femmes emphasised the importance of good pacing. Over half the show was dedicated to introducing us to the queens, which was fun, but didn't help to establish any mystery. Once we had met the femmes, they sat in a row at the back of the stage while detective and clairvoyant reeled off clues so quickly that I couldn't really be bothered following. Audience members were asked to raise a card as to who they thought was guilty after each clue was announced, and the general apathy in the room was evident: most just held up every card.

This is a shame, because the story was excellent. Had it been laid out in such a way that the performance had been littered with clues revealed slowly and teasingly, the twists and turns might have garnered the audience response they rightfully deserve.

The West Australian

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