Aired on KSDS-FM on 9/28/18
RUN DATES: 4/4/18 – 10/28/18
VENUE: Mystery Cafe
When was the last time you had a little murder with your dinner? Or been served by a twerking, short-shorts-wearing policeman?
Welcome to the wacky world of “Whatta Way Ta Die,” at the Mystery Café dinner theater, San Diego’s oldest comedy murder mystery event, going strong for 27 years.
By the end of the crime family caper, there are more dead bodies than in the final scene of “Hamlet.” But these corpses don’t hang around for long; nearly all the actors play two roles, and they have costume quick-changes moments after death.
The audience is more than willing to get into the act, briefly portraying accomplices, ex-wives and all manner of ancillary characters. At the end there are photo ops with the players, and prizes – for the best 1950s costume, and the accurate guess of the murderer.
Three years ago, Shawn and Mary Greiner took up the reins and began writing the scripts and directing the shows – which must be like herding cats, since the off-script ad libs are profuse – and often uproarious.
Shawn plays the doofus son of the Mafia Don who plans to stage his own murder, but he’s already been whacked when we meet him, with a toilet plunger through his head. Mary is production manager, and also controls the lights and sound at the 100-seat Imperial House Restaurant. The accents may waver, and the 3-course dinner is nothing to write home about, but the actors serve the food, which can make for added interactive fun.
One of the cast’s special skills is identifying members of the audience who look like celebrities. The night I was there, we had Martha Stewart, Betty White, Bill Gates, Dr. Phil, and even Macauley Culkin – though, with all the innuendo and phallocentric humor, this really isn’t a place for kids.
All of the agile, quick-witted cast have performed with Mystery Café before. Shawn Greiner himself has logged in 15 productions over 17 years.
If you’re up for some goofball, pun-filled entertainment, you can make the Mystery Café your one-stop shop: get laughs, get fed, and support always-struggling actors, all at once.
©2018 PAT LAUNER