Hiding behind her tears of sorrow, was a woman who was distraught over the untimely execution of her husband, or was she? Her now late husband, the esteemed Mayor Topdraw, was made to look like he planned a murder against known shyster Fast Frank; then was killed himself legally by the town executioner, Mr. Guillotine. The Mayor had already gasped his last breath of air before the townsfolk realized his death was a mistake, he himself had been framed. But by who? Could everyone have been so blind? Was the Mayor totally innocent? Who wanted Fast Frank dead? Who would benefit from their deaths, financially and emotionally? Who framed Mayor Topdraw?
Those were the questions we had to answer one cool night during The Murder Mystery Company’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” mystery dinner show at The Old Spaghetti Factory. Going to a crime solving dinner show was on my 50 Weeks to 50 list, something I had never done before, plus I bought a Groupon. You know how I love those Groupons, and it was one that I would actually use before the expiration date. This time I took my friend Marie, who also had never been to a mystery dinner. She deserved a night out after working a long and grueling tax season.
And wouldn’t you know it, Marie had to work at the show — she was tapped to play the role as Pearl de Vere, the fashion shop owner, aka the Madame. That’s what happens when you sit at the end of the booth. Yes, Marie the Madame was the local brothel owner, and had a bevy of women at another table who all worked for her. And what a lively group of broads they were, not sure how many tequila shots they had throughout the night, but they were having a grand ole time.
Marie did a great job of acting. She kept wearing the frilly hat given to her, and she hates hats, and spoke in a southern accent, which mixed real well with her natural Philly tongue. She was given a binder of instructions, which gave her information about her character and helped her answer questions from the other guests trying to solve the murder mystery. Our team, which included a nice young college couple that were seated across from us, was given information that only we knew about Miss Pearl. Yes, secrets…but if anyone were to ask the right questions…Marie was supposed to answer the truth. Which meant we needed to figure out answer provoking types of questions for the other characters.
Who else were the characters being played? Besides Marie and her gals, plus the already mentioned Mayor Topdraw, Fast Frank and Mr. Guillotine, there was Sandy Crack, the town reporter; Jeremy Irons, blacksmith; Doc Klutz, the doctor who was vacationing from another town; Miss Ann Tique, the Mayor’s widow and school teacher; Cam Pain, the town treasurer; Dee Frog, detective; Miss BeeHave, saloon dancer; Bonnie N. Clyde, event organizer; the Little Tijuana tribe table; and Dicky Quick or Quickie Dick – whatever his name was. Not sure what his role was supposed to be, he was just in and out.
The actual “murders” happen early on in the evening, and you spend the time between dinner courses going around asking the other characters questions. Some played their roles really well, while others had the I can’t believe my wife dragged me here look. Many of the guests also dressed up in cowboy hats, and period looking dresses with a feather boa here and there. I grabbed my red flannel shirt that I wore to my high school Sadie Hawkins dance. Yes, I still have it, it’s sentimental…who did I go with?
So what did we learn? Well, the scuttlebug was that: the Mayor was having an affair with Miss BeeHave; Jeremy Irons received a letter, forged as if from Mayor Topdraw, telling him to replace the blank bullets in the Dick’s gun with the real ones that killed Fast Frank; the Mayor built his house on land owned by Little Tijuana and he had not paid them in full; Ann Tique would inherit the Mayor’s estate in full; Bonnie N. Clyde used to date Fast Frank; Cam Pain becomes the new Mayor and felt that Sandy Crack was two-faced; Fast Frank had killed the Doc’s wife in another town; and only a few townsfolk could read and write. What else did we secretly know? That our own Marie, Pearl de Vere, was a forger and disliked Fast Frank for using her girls’ services without payment. Hmm…
The event host, aka the Sheriff, also had to remind characters when it was time to inform the group of relevant information to help solve the mystery. I’ve probably divulged enough (did I sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement?); I wouldn’t want to give it all away for those who want to attend a future show of the same theme. But when it was time to prepare our submission of who dunnit, we decided to play against the odds and pick a longshot — our own Pearl de Vere. Hey, she had motive and was a forger. No one else seemed to suspect her. And since there was supposedly a $10 million prize, we didn’t want to share. What did I learn about trying to solve a mystery? Be direct with your questions, and the most obvious suspect is most likely the actual culprit. So did you figure out who the killer is? (Comment if you’d like.)
Overall, we had a roaring good time. There was activity, we met some very nice people, and heck, The Spaghetti Factory’s spaghetti with meat sauce and Mizithra cheese has always been my favorite! We would love to come back for another theme, with a group of fun-loving friends who get the sexual innuendos.
You know what’s fun about playing roles in situations like the Murder Mystery show, you get to reinvent yourself. Even if just for a little while, you get to be someone different. In life and in play, are you living in your own reality show? Do people see who you really are, or are you in character? Are you pretending, or being true to yourself? Can one person play multiple roles and be comfortable in all of them?
Even the questions you may or may not ask can give you insight to answer your personal doubts. And are you direct with your questions, maybe you don’t want to know the answer? Some facts you ignore and some you give more weight, possibly because that’s what you want to believe. And sometimes when you find the answers, you then realize those answers were right there all along. Why did you miss the clues?
Maybe life is meant to played like an ongoing puzzle. With new clues to its mystery being found everyday. It’s the journey that counts right? We may never really solve the puzzle, but we might as well have fun trying!
The Murder Mystery Company, www.themurdermysterycompany.com, 888.643.2583 (CLUE), tickets $60 each (find a Groupon), in San Diego the Wanted Dead or Alive theme is scheduled through August. They will also hold private events with themes such as: Crime and Pun-ishment, A Dance with Death, The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year, Murder at the Masquerade, Now You See It Now You Don’t, Of Sound Mind and Dead Body, ‘Til Death Do Us Part, and Totally 80’s Totally Murder.
The Old Spaghetti Factory, www.osf.com, 619.233.4323, San Diego Gaslamp location at 275 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, 92101, murders held at the upstairs Dussini Loft Bar area. Delicious food at a great price.