A Valentine’s Day Murder


What a night! We partied like it was 1926 and a swell time was had by all!

We revisited this popular murder mystery with an all new cast and a brand new venue. Garage Coffee @ Fruitworks Canterbury (at the end of White Horse Lane near the Foundry), made a splendid “Jacky D’s” speakeasy in prohibition Chicago times. A ‘secret cellar’ ambience and a great bar providing our audience with a topical array of soft drinks and, rumour has it, some rather tasty not-so-soft ones too set the evening off nicely! Our audience were warned that if we were raided by the ‘cops’ to ‘hide the giggle juice’!

Our story told the cautionary tale of competitive life in 1926 gangland Chicago with gang leader and businessman Abe Bernstein, played by John Blatchford, trying to keep a grip on his fated Purple Gang at the time of a potential take-over.


The gang’s clueless errand boy, Eddie the Gophor, played by Jonny Brace, got loads of laughs in his bumbling efforts to be taken seriously by the gang and by the girl of his dreams, Gilda the barmaid, played by Maria Krupa.

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A number of teams didn’t think Gilda was as innocent as she appeared, and others thought the blues singer, feisty Betsy Milberg, played by Hannah Farley Hills, was the woman behind the mystery.

28516519_10209110049582967_3646833486983196274_oHannah gave the evening that authentic feel with her sensuous renditions of the two Blues classics, “A good man is hard to find”, and “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out”.


And last but not least, always on the edge of the gang was the suspicious character of James, the city town planner, played by Ryan Brown. Always with the wise-cracks, but did he know more than he was letting on about the potential take over bid? At least one team thought so!

Our talented cast played and sung to an absolutely packed out and enthusiastic audience. It was so lovely to see many of our loyal regulars again as well as lots of new faces. Welcome to the Phoebus Fire fanbase! Sadly we were actually turning people away in the end, but those who bought their tickets early enough had a rip-roaring time and were a treat of an audience to perform to. Thanks to everyone who dressed up for the occasion. We particularly liked some of the gangster mustaches and the great Chicago accents- well done for getting into the spirit of the evening! We had three teams who guessed that it was, (on this occasion), Eddie the Gophor who committed the murder but only one team who got the motive correct, so well done!


We always try to give you a game to play during the evening and most of you had at least one go at guessing in which confiscated object the cops found the secret key to the secret tunnel on their last raid of the premises. Popular guesses were “inside Izzi Bernstein’s teddy bear”, “stuffed in the toe of Harry’s old boot” or even “in the plant pot of Eddie’s venus flytrap: ‘Bernard'”, but the prize went to Janet who guessed it was in the rather tasteful bright yellow tea pot!  You’ll be relieved to know that the key was a red herring and the secret tunnel only went to a disused and waterlogged cellar! Abe just loves getting the better of the Chicago cops!

Thank you to Garage Coffee for their successful efforts at fitting us all in and for the great bar, to Karen Ince, our Phoebus Fire host, to my magnificent cast and unrelentingly cheerful Assistant Director, Laura. Another great night out with Phoebus Fire! Watch this space for events later in the year.

Kit (Director)

Abe Bernstein and our characters from the Purple Gang.

A Valentine’s Day Murder – the cast

(Photography by Laura Johnson)



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