Come Die With Me: The Murder Mystery Musical Parody

Aug 20 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆     Exuberant

Just The Tonic @ The Grassmarket Centre (Venue 27): Tues 15 – Sun 27 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

Happy Sad’s Come Die With Me: The Murder Mystery Musical Parody, at Just the Tonic @ The Grassmarket Centre, is often as unwieldy and potentially confusing as its title. However, the end result is undoubtedly good-hearted and good fun.

Six contestants take part in an episode of a well-known cookery-based game show for a cash prize. However, the usual low marks and tension between strangers are now to be accompanied by the murder of one of them.

The cast of Come Die With Me. Pic: Hannah McGregor

The opening number (reprised at the finale) sets up the expectation that the songs will do a lot of heavy lifting plot-wise. This turns out not to be the case, as there are few other numbers, which do little to further plot or character. At one point, there is a gap between songs that seems to be half the length of the show, and it is possible to forget it is supposed to be a musical at all.

This is a shame, as Hannah McGregor’s songs impress; there is, however, a problem with audibility over the musical backing during some solos, which makes some of the lyrics difficult to make out.

The reality TV show setting may be predictable, but is done with humour. The promised murder mystery element falls down, however; there may be a murder, but there is little mystery, and the way it is all solved – through the promised audience participation – is less than satisfactory.


Although written by McGregor, the piece is credited as having been created by McGregor, director Amber Docherty and cast member Roza Stevenson, and devised by the whole cast. It certainly displays both the strengths and weaknesses of many devised pieces.

The characters could easily just be types – the party-loving student, the annoying smug Tory – but the performers have enough investment in them to make them three-dimensional. However, the absence of an overarching vision leads to a lack of coherence to the overall production – aiming to be a parody of daytime TV, a murder mystery and a musical, it fails to convince fully as any of them.

The cast of Come Die With Me. Pic: Hannah McGregor

McGregor’s script is sprightly and humorous, however, with Docherty’s direction possessing pace and making good use of an unpromising space. There is also a sweetness to it, despite the occasional adult reference; there is a childlike element to the portrait of drug-taking, for example.

There is a reality to the relationship between Heather Richardson’s Come Dine With Me superfan Jane and Stevenson as her partner Chris that is touching; Missy Hingley’s hedonistic student Cordelia has a similarly believable air.

genuine relish

Andrew Lodge attacks the judgemental Frederick with genuine relish, while Sandy Bishop, as the initially silent Paddy, has considerable comic presence. Oliver Payne navigates a sudden switch from narrator to apparently becoming Daniel Craig’s character from Knives Out with ease.

Orla Bayne, meanwhile, portrays struggling artist Sandy with real skill, their acting and singing being particular highlights.

Any attempts for the production to go into an examination of reality TV culture or the demands of modern life are soon overtaken by the more pressing demands of just being very silly on stage. Which is no bad thing, and the end result is certainly enjoyable.

Running time: one hour and 5 minutes (no interval)
Just the Tonic @ The Grassmarket Centre (The Old Foundry Room), 86 Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QA (Venue 27)
Tuesday 15 – Sunday 27 August 2023
Daily (not 16, 23) at 4.30 pm.
Tickets and details Book here.

Happy Sad Productions links


Facebook: @happysadproductions

Twitter: @happysadpro



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