In the residency of Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Ting-To
Whodunnit? was created as a response to the world’s longest running English-language play, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
Borrowing the form of a classic middlebrow English amateur dramatics drawing-room detective drama, Whodunnit? is the longest running (and as yet unresolved) ‘who-done-it’ in history. Instead of reaching a final point of resolution it is a never-ending chain of suspicion, accusation, betrayal and fear, with the drama of cultural politics.
Taking the ethnic origin categories provided on arts funding monitoring forms as a guide, the artist auditioned actors from various ethnic minority groups in the UK, including African, Afro-Caribbean, Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Greek Cypriot, Eastern European, Jewish, Irish, etc. The cast was required to perform in two constructed accents: RP (received pronunciation) and a ‘foreign’ accent, drawing on his/her professional as well as personal experience of representing his/her own cultural identity.
In the film, the accents switch back and forth, betraying the shifts in allegiance amongst the characters as the murder mystery is played out.
At a time when cultural identity is common terminology in the arts, Whodunnit? raises questions about the adequacy of categories we are given to define ourselves and highlights the multiplicity and shifting nature of British identity.