Holmes, a bride’s been murdered in Acle!

It's not a village known for its crime rate, so seeing a bride in full wedding dress slumped unconscious on the green is sure to cause more than a stir among shoppers in Acle.

Their consternation will be even greater when they catch sight of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson standing over the 'crime' scene.

The dastardly idea of turning the Broadland community where they grew up into some kind of Victorian equivalent of Midsomer came to former Acle High School pupils Laura and Stephen Blackwell when they were considering possibilities for an event to involve the whole village.

On Sunday, all the characters in A Victorian Village Mystery – The Curse of the Sleeping Angel gathered at Clover's Cafe to start a final dress rehearsal.

It is hoped that the drama, which will unfold from 11am to 3pm this Sunday – taking in all parts of the village – can become a popular annual event boosting trade for local businesses.

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Theatre studies graduate Stephen, 28, devised the plot for the play which sees Sherlock Holmes receive a mystery wedding invitation and travel to Acle – with Dr Watson – to meet his bride.

Once in the village, he finds her unconscious and learns of a 30-year curse which has seen every bride struck down on her wedding day.

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Graphic designer Stephen, who has travelled back to Acle from his home in Sardinia for the play, said: 'We had been talking about the Victorian evening which used to take place in Acle in November and the whole thing evolved from there.'

Acts will take place in different parts of the village as Holmes tries to fit together the pieces of the puzzle and finally reveal the shocking truth.

Stephen said: 'The idea is that for spectators, it will be like watching a movie from the inside; there is an interractive element with riddles and puzzles to solve.'

Cafe owner Jackie Clover, whose husband, Simon, plays Dr Watson, said: 'It is so good to see these young people making an effort to pull the community together; it would be nice to see it develop into a Victorian day.'

Jackie, a member of Acle Archiving Group, will be decorating the cafe with Victorian photos and she and waitress Ilona Stephenson, 15, will be dressing as Victorian maids.

Bride Julie Porter, 40, of South Walsham Road, said: 'When they said I was going to be the victim, I said, 'Oh', but I have never had so much fun being a victim.

'My dad used to organise musical events in the village but nothing has taken place for a long time.'

Semi-retired professional actor Don Edwards, 79, of nearby Halvergate, who plays the historian and narrator, said: 'This is what theatre is all about, getting people involved.'

Lidl area manager Gary Clifton –who plays Sherlock Holmes –confessed he had not acted since his schooldays, but had been intrigued when he saw adverts while walking through the village from his home in Norwich Road.

Laura, 26, of Elm Close, Acle, said: 'We have had such brilliant support from local people.

'It has really got the whole community involved.'

Spectators can buy advance tickets online at www.villagemystery.com or from Clover's or Acle Post Office for �8. Tickets on the day will cost �10.

There will also be free activities including craft stalls.

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