A beloved music hall performer has been murdered and 93-year-old Audrey Chalmers may be the only person who can solve the mystery. It is only pretend, but this project is designed to stimulate the same “little grey cells” as a real-life mystery and keep residents’ neurons firing on full power.

The 10-week project is being led by East Oxford theatre director Lizzy McBain, who brings in a new box of props and costumes every Tuesday morning to take residents on a different imaginary adventure.

So far her favourite moment has been posing for a photograph with residents wearing imaginary hats they bought from an imaginary hat shop.

Miss McBain, director of UnderConstruction theatre company, said: “It’s been lovely to get to know the residents through these storymaking sessions, from going shopping to taking a trip to the seaside, riding a ghost train at the fair we invented and tackling a Victorian murder mystery.”

The Meadows is running arty workshops to stimulate residents’ imaginations as part of a new project called The Making of Me, run in collaboration with The Courtyard Centre for the Arts in Herefordshire.

The Making of Me aims to improve quality of life for care home residents by “encouraging creative participation” and “developing communication” using dance, drama and poetry.

Miss McBain said she was having “great fun” getting to know residents and occasionally getting through to some with cognitive difficulties associated with old age.

She said: “One person yesterday said to me ‘I really enjoy it, it’s much better than just sitting in my room, I get to be transported to a different place’. The response varies massively because these people are all at different stages of their lives.”