Murder-Mystery Dinner Show Still an Oddball Entrée

Murder-mystery dinner show still an oddball entrée


I ate chicken next to a murderer.

But I didn’t swallow the red herrings.

Dining and sleuthing have been cooked into a strange entertainment quiche for 15 years, so with Marriage Can Be Murder at The D celebrating that milestone, I dropped in to see if it’s still palatable. (Was it coincidental that I wound up seated next to the dude revealed to be the killer as the cheesecake arrived? Or that my name popped up in a comedy bit, compelling my brief participation? Let’s just say producers knew I was coming.)

Rather than overdo the food metaphors by calling it cheesy, we’ll settle for kitschy: a night of corny shtick and passable grub, allowing dollar-savvy tourists to combine dinner and entertainment options at a mildly amusing stew for the senses and the stomach.

Unfolding almost entirely in the audience, the interactive Marriage—which in the current iteration has little to do with marriage (the plotlines change five times a year)—stars Jayne Post (also the writer) as the platinum blond “ditz” who kibitzes with the crowd, tells us that diners (actors) will be suddenly dying around us, and gives us role-play assignments (as pallbearers, nurses. etc.). Expect the occasional fake gunshot and hint of stage blood, but not enough to make you spit out your mouthful of potatoes.

After the initial murder is staged, her primary responsibility becomes needling the rotund cop in dork-shorts (Ralph Ohlsen) who’s investigating what becomes a series of murders—“victims” are shot, stabbed and poisoned—that provide the excuse to “interview” witnesses, extracting more shtick.

Rim-shot touches include audio-visual cues—as a middle-age black man is quizzed, we hear the Sanford and Son theme, and my own name appeared on a video monitor in the guise of giving the show a positive review on Yelp.

Scripted comedy runs along the lines of …

Cop: “Why are all these people wearing nametags?”

Blonde: “It’s an Alzheimer’s convention. They make new friends every day.”

Cop: “Lady, are you taking a picture of my crotch?”

Blonde: “That’s a violation of the penal code.”

Blonde: “I worked at an orange juice factory, but I couldn’t concentrate so they canned me.”

Dumb-funny and giggle-cute.

Improvised comedy with an audience depends largely on the latter. At my show, it ranged from genuinely funny (a wife, asked the secret to her decadeslong marriage to her husband, seated with her, answers: “blowjobs”) to genuinely dull (me, displaying zero improv skills, proving why I have a job where I can take time to carefully craft sentences, thoughts and ideas—even then, all you get is … this).

We’re also given cards on which we’re asked to keep track of clues, encouraged to be suspicious of fellow diners, and, finally, to finger the culprit. You don’t need to be a Law & Order rerun junkie to unravel it.

FYI: You don’t have to choose the chicken. Beef and pasta are also on the menu. Good red herrings? Try a deli.

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