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Our Obsession with the Macabre

06/01/2017

I’ve been performing in Murder Mysteries for half a decade and only today did I stop and analyse the bizarre nature of a party centred around a fictionalised murder. How is such a morbidly gruesome scene (albeit pretend in this instance) so conducive to a raucous evening of fun? (And they really are such raucous fun FYI).

As humans, we have an obsession with the macabre…whether it’s our addiction to Scandinavian crime dramas, gawping at graphic news items, or throwing ourselves into immersive theatre where we get to play the victims, suspects and perpetrators (whilst simultaneously enjoying fine food and wine).

Why does death have an uncanny monopoly on our thoughts? Because of our total lack of control over it, of course. As a developed species we look for order and reason, and as much as we throw tantrums and kick-off in the presence of death – it won’t budge its monolithic stance. So, we have no choice but to look for an alternative card to play. Guess what you already know, guys…humour is the winning trump in our deck.

If death is the ultimate offence that life commits, then laughing in the face of it whilst still alive suddenly makes obvious sense. Up these stakes from death to murder and hey presto, you’ve got a side-splitting night in store. What comic relief offers is a way to deal with the terrible things that go on around us. Murder is bleak. Murder Mystery parties are a way to triumph over the horrid and unexplainable – to raise a glass and hold two fingers up to the unpleasantness that at times appears to surround us. On that note, I can’t think of a more appropriate analogy to say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017…cheers!

Written by Roxy Dunn (actress)