TRCH - Mindgames

Review: Crime Club at The National Justice Museum

6 April 19 words: Ashley Carter

We headed down to the National Justice Museum to check out their first ever Crime Club... 

There’s been a huge swing toward active, tangible entertainment experiences of late, offering a welcome break to those who have grown bored with the passive experience video games or phones offer. Whilst the explosion in popularity of escape rooms might be the most prominent example, there are plenty of other organisations around Nottingham that are also embracing the shift. I experienced one of the most innovative and engaging examples last week, at the launch night of the National Justice Museum’s new Crime Club.

After being welcomed with a glass of wine (beer and soft drinks were also available), the heavily attended opening event began with an opportunity to drink, chat to your fellow attendees and study the 18thcentury map of Nottingham that we had all been given – which would come in handy later.

The group was then led into the old Court Room where, after being seated in rows along the antique benches, we listened to a brief introduction, which included a warning that anyone who was made to feel squeamish from the grizzly details was welcome to step outside.

Although no one did, the warning was a fair and justified one. As our host for the evening, the brilliant Stephen Dennis, in character as an 18th century, port-swilling gent, complete with cane and tricorne hat, spared no detail of the three grizzly true historical crimes.

The inaugural event, part of a planned series of four, was titled 'Outlaws and Exiles'. Throughout the two hour running time, our host took us on three separate, but thematically-linked, journeys through historical murders that happened in and around Nottingham. From highway robberies to illicit affairs, the evening was endlessly fascinating, and presented in an innovative, constantly engaging and hugely entertaining way.

As ‘audience’ members, we weren’t just there to listen, as our host invited us all to speculate on the motives behind the murders, whilst informing us of the investigative methods involved at the time of the crimes. Perhaps a little shy to get involved at first (perhaps due to the presence of a ‘dead body’ on the table in front of us), people seemed far more vocal with their opinions and theories after the brief interval.

At two hours, the event seemed like the ideal length to keep people engaged, although I could have happily spent the entire evening there. The entire evening felt like such a unique and inventive way of educating, entertaining and engaging people with fascinating, gruesome stories of Nottingham’s history, and I can’t wait for the next one.

The next Crime Club, Women Who Kill, will be at the National Justice Museum on Thursday 23 May 6pm-8pm. For more information, visit nationaljusticemuseum.org.uk/event/crime-club

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