Poetic Justice

Poetic Justice mystery picA mystery full of 1920s slang & great for a 1920s themed party!

H. G. Wells has transported a 1920s soiree to your living room via his time machine and now he has been murdered (transported to the dark ages in the “mystery not murder” version). Was it T.S Eliot, Isadora Duncan, Mae West or one of the others?

Reading level: 6

This is our 1920s mystery!

The school version comes with teacher’s notes.

Versions and samples:

More details:

See the sections below for more details:

Overview

A group of cultured people from the 1920s have materialized in a modern apartment in London. H. G. Wells had been testing his novel’s time machine at a soiree. Now he is discovered dead in the bathroom. Who killed him? Was it James Joyce, Isadora Duncan, T.S. Eliot, Mae West or another of the visitors? Agatha Christie herself is present to help solve this crime. The key to this puzzle may appear in a line of verse or it may not. But in any case, we must achieve justice, poetic or not.

Note: There is the occasional mention of alcohol consumption. Apart from this, it is all “good, clean family fun”. These mentions are not included in the play versions.

Excerpt

Mae West: (about Miss Sarah Bernhardt having been on the same bill as WC Fields), “Funnily enough, you were on the same bill as Bill, WC, here. This was when he was still trying to keep all those balls in the air. Before he’d consumed all that bourbon and begun to imitate my way of speaking. Miss B had a clause in her contract forbidding animal acts to be on the same bill as her. Lucky you didn’t juggle any animals Bill.”

What they’ve said

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David Camus, Australia

Here is some feedback David sent in regarding his “Poetic Justice” party for his girlfriend’s 30th birthday. Please note that David bought this kit before it was modified to be only 3 acts instead of 4, that is why his party took a bit longer than this kit normally takes now.

“Thanks for Poetic Justice

Hi all at (Merri Mysteries),

Well Lisa`s Party was just fantastic…..Poetic Justice was a set to be seen in Brisbane, Australia. It was a complete surprise for Lisa (except for the fact she thought we were going to a fancy dress ball). I changed the whole appearance of the house…Hundreds of candles, silver cutlery and service, And the game began. Everone just fell into their parts and the evening went for 4 hours of incredible fun thanks to the well written and wonderful ideas imposed by yourselves and once the game had ended no one wanted to stop so we carried on. We had a full house and as you will see from the photos, endless laughter and fun.

Everyone dressed up and it was a wonderful night.

Thank you a million times.

Everyone keeps asking when am I holding the next one…..Well I just need an excuse…..Whose birthday is next!!!!!!!

David Camus”

A picture from David's Poetic Justice party
A picture from David’s “Poetic Justice” party

A picture from David's Poetic Justice party
A picture from David’s “Poetic Justice” party

Barbara Gearhart,USA

“I want to report that our Mystery Dinner was absolutely WONDERFUL!!…. credit must go to the plot and our guests who all participated with enthusiasm – they came in costumes which were just great, had researched their characters, did a lot of wonderful ad-libbing…. this was a group of present/retired University of Kansas faculty (among others)….

Mae West had a curly wig, big bosoms, a long velvet dress; Charlie Chaplin was perfect; W.C. Fields had a blousy tie, great jacket and hat; Virginia Woolfe wore her grandmother’s 1920’s beaded dress with coat trimmed in Monkey Fur (a treasure really)…; Yeats was all in tweeds and a big pipe; Sarah Bernhardt had a cane and played her part to perfection; Agatha Christie had fox fur, lots of pearls, and an absolutely terrible tweed hat; Joyce had a white suit, eye-patch; Isadora Duncan was swathed in white with a red headband and red shoes – – these folks didn’t check with each other ahead and so it was a hilarious surprise as each guest arrived!!

We did act 1 with cocktails, resumed for coffee and dessert and did act 2, then act 3…. it was great fun…. I had one lady say it was the Best New Year’s Eve she’d ever spent…. had a telephone call yesterday to tell us the same thing.

I do want to thank you for all your assistance – we’d do this again in a minute. If you’ll send me an address, I’ll send some pictures when we get them developed since I believe this was probably one of the most photogenic groups you’ll ever have!

Thanks for providing us such grown-up entertainment for beginning 2001. We loved it.”

Barbara's pictures of James Joyce & Mae West & W C Fields
Barbara’s pictures of James Joyce & Mae West & W C Fields

Barbara's picture of Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Woolf
Charlie Chaplin & Virginia Woolf & Isadora Duncan & Agatha Christie

Tina McIntosh, Red Gum Cottage, Tamworth, NSW, Australia

“I have now run 9 Merri Mysteries since July and have bookings for at least 6 more. I have found whether it is 34 eighteen year olds or 10 conservative academics, they are enjoyed by all and suit all occasions.

My favourite is “Poetic Justice”. The dressing up is fabulous, the story fun and it brings out a 1920’s theme that a lot of people love. Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, James Joyce are cheeky characters. (In fact we found Mae on someone’s lap in the “Murder on the Prairie” set.) I decorated the cafe with pink towels, lavender oil and Grandma’s old pink dressing gown. You ask why??? You’ll have to buy the kit.”

John Heath, Balmoral Guest House, NSW, Australia

“Our host a murder party using your “Poetic Justice” murder package was absolutely wonderful. All our guests were notified by advance invitation of their characters and they came to the “party” dressed in costume. Having “famous” characters was also a bonus as everyone could relate to them and act out their fantasy.

We started the evening with a cocktail party so that all the characters had the opportunity to “grow” into their characters. To add to the atmosphere we had the local funeral parlour deliver a coffin as a prop. They went to the trouble of putting a brass “nameplate” on the coffin saying “host a murder at Balmoral, 9/9/2000” which made for a great photo memento.

We also had some other guests come to the “party” after cocktails. These guests were given “witness” roles and we supplied basic props such as hats, scarves and coats to help them with their character. This worked out very well because we had the major actors acting out their roles as per your script with the other party watching on. So in effect we ran with two different experiences within one host a murder show.

The main actors were outrageous in their dress and behaviour which is attributed I think to good characters and knowing well in advance who their characters were.

I look forward to your ghost story which will suit Balmoral as we are very much haunted and using more of your kits as they are very easy to understand, very user friendly and do not require too much extra work on our behalf. Well done Stephanie, keep up the great work.

Yours in murder John.”

Caroline Long, Australia

A photo of the victim from Caroline's Poetic Justice party

Caroline sent in this feedback about her party:

“Our victim in ‘Poetic Justice’ held last year. A fun evening. Looking forward to hosting another.”

Karen Allie, USA

Karen sent in this feedback about her “Poetic Justice” party:

HELLO!

JUST RECOVERING FROM A FANTASTIC NIGHT WITH POETIC JUSTICE. EVERYONE WAS JUST GREAT! THE COMMENTS WERE THEY HAD A GREAT TIME AND WE WOULD HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN. WE HAD A VERY ECLECTIC GROUP, YOUNG AND OLD, SERIOUS AND HUMOROUS…EVERYONE PARTICIPATED AND ENJOYED THEMSELVES.

IT STARTED AS A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION. THE BIRTHDAY GIRL GOT TO CHOSE HER STORY. THE REST WAS A SURPRISE. I HAD LESS THAN 10 DAYS TO PREPARE FOR IT. I KNEW IT WAS A WINNER SO THAT MADE ALL THE EFFORTS WORTH IT. WE SHARED THE MAGIC OF THE EVENING. I TOLD ALL THE GUESTS THAT IT WAS $20 FOR THE WIG, $6 FOR THE CIGARETTE HOLDER, BUT THE REST OF THE EVENING IS PRICELESS! WE WERE ABLE TO CREATE A MEMORY THAT WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

THE KIT WAS USER FRIENDLY. THE REST WAS UP TO EVERYONE’S IMAGINATION. WE HAD A GOOD LAUGH OVER THE ONES THAT HAD TO FOCUS ON THE FINE PRINT TO READ THE LINES!

THANKS FOR MAKING IT POSSIBLE.

SINCERELY,

KAREN ALLIE TAMPA, FL.”

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Katie Darcy, USA

Katie sent in this feedback:

“I would like to thank you for creating this wonderful party.

My friend and I planned the Poetic Justice party for my 18th birthday, and all of us had a blast! We went all out, with a bar full of virgin drinks that looked like the real thing, fake cigarettes that blew out smoke, a bartender, and authentic music from the 20s.

I am submitting a picture of the whole gang for the picture contest. That’s me in the middle, playing the part of Mae West. My friend, Rachael Logue, is the one who purchased the kit, and she is in the upper right hand corner, playing Lily Pad.

Once again, thank you for this awesome party idea, and we can NOT wait for our next one!

Sincerely,
Katie Darcy

A group photo of Katie's Poetic Justice party

Sabrina and Heather Wright, USA

Sabrina and Heather sent in this feedback:

“My name is Sabrina Wright. I purchased Poetic Justice (large standard) in the early part of the year. My husband and I had our first Mystery Dinner on Oct. 8th. It was great! All but one person dressed their part (and he didn’t only because he was a last minute fill in) and everyone was enthusiastic about their character. We are looking forward to having another one soon. Thanks!”

A photo of Mae West and James Joyce at Sabrina and Heathers Poetic Justice party

Invitations

Reading level

Note: The reading levels of each kit (not just “page” as it says below) were determined by copying and pasting the kit (the mystery play version), into The Readability Test Tool (see www.read-able.com).

Poetic Justice reading details picture

The luminaries HG assembled were:

Dame Agatha Christie

I’m a British writer of mysteries mainly. I was made a Dame, would you believe it? It was a happy and fulfilling life. And H.G. Wells has made me miss out on all of that. All I got was a quick zip through it. I felt cheated. It was like seeing the menu without being allowed to order or to taste the food.

James Joyce

I’m an Irish poet and novelist. To live is better than to miss out on living. Wells had stopped me from being able to do that.

Virginia Woolf

I’m a British novelist. It was such a sad life (sob sob). I hated having to see it flash before my eyes. H. G. Wells had made me suffer so much. I can’t tell you how much.

William Yeats

I’m an Irish poet, dramatist and politician. I saw my future during the time travel. How could I let a man like Wells rob me of the joy of receiving the Nobel Prize for Poetry? Can you imagine my joy at finally putting Ireland on the literary map? How could I let him do that to me?

Mae West

I’m a movie actress and I often write my own scripts. I was only just getting started in show business before H. G. Wells whisked me off here into the future. He made me miss out on all that fun.

Thomas S. Eliot

I’m an American born, English poet and playwright. I saw my future. I wrote various poetry collections and plays, although I was not as prolific as you, Mrs Christie. H. G. Wells had no right to bring me into the future. No right at all.

Isadora Duncan

I’m a US dancer – one of the first to use dance steps based on natural movement. I saw in my future, that in 1927 I was strangled by one of my long scarves after it caught in the wheel of my sports car. Lucky, I suppose that I had written my autobiography before I died. You can’t imagine what it feels like to watch yourself die and to die like that – strangled by my own scarf. I think H. G. Wells has left me with permanent emotional scars.

Charlie Chaplin

I’m a comedian, writer, director and movie producer. I saw my future. I made lots more movies. Wells has interrupted my movie making career just as it was starting by this time travel nonsense.

Dorothy Parker

I’m a US critic, poet and short story writer. I’m known for my satire, terse style and acid wit. I saw my future. Although my life appears to have been as acerbic as my poetry, it doesn’t mean there weren’t some good times. H. G. Wells shouldn’t have denied me those times.

Ezra Pound

I’m an American poet and critic and leader of the European literary avant-garde. I saw my future and although I regret what happened as a result of the war, I had a poetic life and I would like the opportunity to live it. What hope is there now that Wells has cast me here? This is worse than any lunatic asylum.

Sarah Bernhardt

I’m a French actress but I have performed world-wide and I have managed several Paris theatres and opened my own theatre. In 1915 I had my right leg amputated after a fall, but I continued to act. I don’t want to have my final curtain call here. I find this modern world bereft of style and glamour.

William C. Fields

I’m the US actor with the raspy voice and I’m a script writer. My life was a barrel of laughs. H. G. Wells has taken me away from all that. People in this age probably won’t appreciate my humor.

Georgia O’Keefe

I’m an American painter mainly of flowers, still lifes, desert landscapes and sometimes abstracts. I saw my future. My life was satisfying in its own way. As most of you are poets and writers, you may not appreciate just how good it feels to capture nature in a painting. H. G. Wells had denied me the pleasure of living the life I saw.

Rudolph Valentino

I’m a Hollywood actor known for my sultry charms. I saw my future. I saw my early death in 1926 due to a perforated ulcer and the mass hysteria caused by it. I was shocked to die so young. Like Isadora, I found it was very jarring to see myself die. Nobody should be confronted with that, surely?

Bessie Smith

I’m a US blues singer. They say I was important to the development of the blues. But I ain’t going to sing none of those tunes now. How can I when I’m not in the time where I belong? Wells has wrecked all that.

Lily Pad (English hostess)

I’m a groovy young chic who was about to go out to a party when this lot dropped in. I haven’t gotten to see my future, but it sounds really cool. H. G. Wells was a bossy one. Took over the place as if he owned it and treated it as if it were a movie set. He was a real creep.