Thespian Lifestyle

11 Murder Mystery Plays That You Will Love

Sometimes it’s fun to simply enjoy a good old-fashioned whodunit! And that’s exactly why we’ve put together a list of some of the greatest murder mystery plays for your enjoyment. Some are serious, some are funny, and some are simply parodies of the classics. So keep on reading for 11 murder mystery plays you’ll surely love!

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1. The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, by John Bishop

This murder mystery is a comedic hit for all ages. It’s the story of a creative team who attempts to put together a new show, shortly after a Broadway flop and three mysterious murders. But it’s only a matter of time before the mysterious killer strikes again.

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2. The Mousetrap, by Agatha Christie

The Mousetrap opened in London in 1952, and its popularity turned it into the longest running West End Show! The play itself follows the story of a group of strangers who are stuck together in the midst of a snowstorm.

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3. Sleuth, by Anthony Shaffer

The fun thing about this play is that it’s actually a parody of an Agatha Christie thriller! It’s packed with twists, turns, suspense, and excitement. It’s one of the most popular murder mystery plays to date.

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4. The Butler Did It, by Tim Kelly

And speaking of paradies, this one pokes fun at basically every English murder mystery play ever written. However, although the play is packed with hilarity and fun moments, it’s still full of suspense and surprises!

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5. Rehearsal for Murder, adapted by D.D. Brooke

This hilarious “play within a play” mixes up murder, mystery, and traditional “stagey” humor. As the play unfolds, so does more about the murder of the beautiful leading lady.

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6. Done to Death, by Fred Carmichael

In this play, mystery writers enlist the help of the audience in order to work together on solving various murders. The writers then proceed to write their own mystery series as murders continue to happen around them.

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7. The Game’s Afoot, by Ken Ludwig

The Game’s Afoot tells the story of a Broadway star who invites his fellow castmates to his private castle for a weekend of fun. But after one of his castmates is stabbed to death, the mood of the festivities quickly turns.

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8. But Why Bump Off Barnaby?, by Rick Abbot

This hilariously creative murder mystery begins after Barnaby is murdered at a family gathering. The strange part is that he actually had the plan to murder everyone else, and he ended up writing “B-A-R” on a piece of paper before dying, which are letters that can apply to everyone in the room.

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9. The Real Inspector Hound, by Tom Stoppard

This play follows two theatre critics who accidentally become involved with a whodunit-style murder mystery. The Real Inspector Hound is also more of a parody and pokes fun at Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. 

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10. While the Lights Were Out, by Jack Sharkey

In this play, a murder happens, the lights come up, and the rest of us have to scramble to figure out just what happened in the darkness. While the Lights Were Out is full of laughter, surprises, and enough suspense to keep you on your toes.

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11. Night Watch, by Lucille Fletcher

Night Watch follows the story of Ellie who is unable to sleep one night and sees the body of a dead man in an adjacent window. Her husband does not see what Ellie sees, which in turn causes much disbelief from the police. This play is exciting, thrilling, and wildly chilling.

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Have you read any of the murder mystery plays on the list?

Or have you seen any of them performed live? We would love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Stacy Karyn, Author of Murder Mystery Plays You'll Love.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She holds a BA in theatre, a TESOL drama certificate, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


2 thoughts on “11 Murder Mystery Plays That You Will Love

  • 1. The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, by John Bishop – I was in it, community theatre production in 2018. I was murdered before the end of Act One. A very odd show, twisty-turny plot, lots of NYC & Broadway humor. I loved the characters. Lots of fun to do.
    2. The Mousetrap – I saw it in London in 1989. Excellent, excellent. At that time, it had been running for something like 38 years. (It’s STILL running!) I performed in it in summer stock in 1979 in Minnesota. What fun! I also saw it while I was a resident company member in a summer stock company in Ohio, although I was not cast in that production. I LOVE The Mousetrap. Classic, perfect Dame Agatha.
    3. The Game’s Afoot, by Ken Ludwig – I saw a community theatre production with some very dull, poor actors, and I wasn’t too taken with the script, either. Disappointed because Ken Ludwig has written some very much better scripts than this one.
    4. Sleuth, by Anthony Shaffer – Wonderfully clever play. I’ve seen this produced by a summer stock company I was a member of in 1984, in New Jersey, although it is another show I was not in myself. Tour de force roles for the actors involved.
    5. Night Watch, by Lucille Fletcher – I saw this at a community theatre in Maryland in 2017. Not one of my favorite plays after having read it, I ABSOLUTELY enjoyed that production. It was atmospheric and creepy, and surprisingly, it played very well, despite being sort of an “old chestnut”.
    I’ve read both The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard and The Butler Did It by Tim Kelly, but honestly, I don’t remember the scripts. However, I recall liking both plays immensely from reading them.
    The other pieces I am totally unfamiliar with.

    • Wow, thank you for sharing all of your personal experiences with these plays! I personally haven’t even seen most of these live, and your comment made me very excited to experience the ones that you mentioned loving. Keep being awesome! 🙂

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