News / Calgary

Go Undercover as play meets escape room at Vertigo Theatre

Each performance recruits an audience member to help solve the murder mystery on stage

Rebecca Northan and John Ullyatt in Undercover

Courtesy Emily Cooper

Rebecca Northan and John Ullyatt in Undercover

Welcome police recruit – you’re about to go Undercover.

Each performance of Vertigo’s new show will recruit one member from the audience to join the performers on stage to delve into the criminal mind and solve the murder mystery.

The basic premise is a brand new rookie detective is hired by the Calgary police, who have been tipped off that a member of a crime family has been invited to a private art auction. The rookie, played by the audience member, is sent to the auction to get close to the crime boss and gather some information.

Of course, this being a murder mystery, eventually someone ends up dead.

Director and performer Rebecca Northan, actor Bruce Horak and the rest of the cast are old hats at the improvisational comedy game. Northan created the acclaimed Blind Date, which also brought the audience in on the game.

Horak stated the most important part of the show is making the audience member look good, so everyone is having a good time.

The show debuted in Toronto, so the crew has found a good flow to keep the show fun.

“Every single audience member we’ve invited on stage is just beaming at the end,” said Horak. “I feel like we’re successful as a company when the audience member is lit up with joy.”

The show will have a loose structure to it, and sometimes the audience will choose the correct culprit and sometimes they won’t – but the destination there will be different.

The second act is very much driven by the audience member interrogating the characters on stage, and search for real clues hidden in the set.

“There’s a mild escape room vibe to it. There are secret passage ways, secret panels and physical clues to be found that help tell the story and give them what they need to tell the story,” Northan said, adding they’ve never done the second act the same way twice.

About 30 per cent of audience members have solved the mystery correctly – though they always reveal the real culprit at the end.

“We actually don’t care if the audience member solves it correctly or not,” she said. “The fun of the show is just how you play the game and what kind of detective you are.”

Undercover officially opens January 18. Visit for more information.

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