4 Ways to Make Murder Entertaining

   

Like any aficionado, mystery fans enjoy delving into and expressing enthusiasm for their subject in creative ways.  Check out the weird collectibles I featured in two earlier posts: items like gun-shaped salt and pepper shakers and Crime Scene Police-Tape Bedsheets are sure to please the mystery lover in your life.

We mystery fans also seek out the company of other disturbed like-minded folks through blogs, tweets, Facebook, and fan conventions.  But still, we long for more…

Look no further; I have the solution.  Consider taking your fandom to the next level:  a little “live” murder mystery fun!

4 Ways to Make Murder “Entertaining”

In the order of Least-to-Most Interactive:

#1:  Attend a murder mystery play.

image via theaterinchicago.com

Shear Madness, the “interactive comedy whodunit” has been running continuously in Boston since 1980 and Washington, DC since 1987!  It’s set in a hair salon, and during the course of the play – which mixes in humorous contemporary news items and pop culture trends – various clues are established, and then there’s an off-stage murder.  The solution is different every time, and the audience participates – when called upon – from their spectator seats in volunteering what clues they observed, and who they think the murderer is.  It’s a campy, hilarious time; I’ve seen it on three different occasions, and I’ve never been disappointed.  They also tour other cities, such as Chicago and Seattle.

Here’s a description from the main site, shearmadness.com:

The flagship Boston company has given birth to 42 productions in the US and “Shear Madness” has been translated into 10 foreign languages, playing worldwide in a host of cities including Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Paris, Rejkavik, Rome, Tel Aviv, Melbourne, Johannesburg and Seoul.

#2:  Attend a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater.

Yeah, the 'fros were flying at this event.

 

These events are widely available, and offer quite a variety of “theme” settings: anything from a Greek wedding reception to a 70’s discotheque.  A few weeks ago, as a surprise for my birthday, my husband took me and six of our friends to “Death by Disco” at the Mystery Dinner Playhouse.  (The group pic above was taken after the show was over).

What fun!  You sit at banquet-style tables, where food is served to you by the actors.  Unlike being in a spectator seat in an auditorium, here you’re at “ground zero,” and the actors revel in taking advantage of that.  Everyone gets worked into the action.  One poor friend of ours started coughing with laughter, which brought cast members rushing over to call for someone to do that “German thing” to him to “unchoke” him.  (He was fine, once he stopped blushing).  Our actors were strutting around in platform shoes and fake John Travolta Jersey-Italian accents, clad in the most outrageous 70s clothes they could get their hands on.  Notice the powder-blue bell-bottoms in the pic above, for example. 🙂

#3:  Go for a Mystery Weekend getaway at a Bed & Breakfast.

image via pbase.com

Well now we’re getting really hard-core, aren’t we?  Committing to an entire weekend at the mercy of trouble-loving fellow mystery fans and mischievous B&B hosts?  Who knows what might be in the food?

*gack* *choke*  Give me a moment.

To celebrate our wedding anniversary one year, my hubby and I visited the Harry Packer Mansion.  Not only did we stay the weekend in a fabulous suite in an old mansion located in the historic town of Jim Thorpe, PA, enjoying gourmet food, we also participated in a murder mystery based upon the history of the Packer family, who once owned the mansion and ran the town.  We were assigned roles shortly after check-in, and the mystery was conducted in three “rounds” over the course of the weekend, with plenty of free time in between to shop and sight-see.  As is customary with such a setup, in each round you get additional bits of information about your own character and others.  However, not even the murderer knew her own identity until the big reveal (’cause, hey, she should have fun, too – right?).  Turned out, I was the murderer.  Bwahaha.

#4:  Host your own murder.

A sampling of what's out there; not specific games that we have played.

 

This is when murder really “hits home,” if you know what I mean.  We have hosted many a “murder event” in our home, and gotten away with it successfully!  Back when we started doing it, the kits were only available as boxed sets in a store, but now, most of the choices are online, where you select your theme, make your purchase, and download the material.

Oh, yes.  There’s a theme.  That’s what makes it so hilarious.  The choices are plentiful:  a 50’s high school reunion, a 20’s gangster restaurant party, a haunted mansion weekend, a deadly cruise.  The kits are usually designed for 8 people, but there are some for larger groups, too.  They include:

  • assigned roles/descriptions of the characters your guests will assume for the evening (and they are encouraged to come in costume).
  • booklets for each character and the host, with round-by-round instructions; this is where new information is given out.
  • a final solution packet, after everyone has voted, which reveals the real murderer.

It’s not until the final round, before the solution is revealed, that one of the guests finds out she or he is the murderer.  Then there’s a lot of keester-covering that goes on. 🙂  Many of the kits also include menu suggestions, recipes, decoration ideas, and a music CD (if you order a hard copy of the game), in line with the theme.  Without a meal, the evening takes about 3 hours, unless some of your guests happen to be attorneys, and then it takes a lot longer.  We found that out through personal experience, LOL, but it was still great fun.

So, there you are, 4 fabulous ways to enjoy your morbid fascination with love of mysteries! Hope you get a chance to give one a try.

Have you ever hosted a murder mystery, or attended a mystery dinner theater?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Kathy

 

2 people like this post.

14 thoughts on “4 Ways to Make Murder Entertaining”

  1. Margot KinbergMargot Kinberg

    Kathy – Oh, these are such great ideas! Thanks for sharing your experiences and I’m glad you had fun. I’ve even heard of Mystery Cruises, too – quite delicious, so say those who’ve been on them.

  2. PatriciaPatricia

    Now that’s entirely too much fun to be considered research. Great pictures!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  3. August McLaughlinAugust McLaughlin

    I LOVE the title—ha! And the post lives up to it. Your mystery theater suggestion rocks. If anyone makes murder entertaining, those folks do. 😉 I marvel at authors who use humor effectively in mysteries. It doesn’t seem like an easy thing to accomplish well. When it does, I’m wowed.

    I attended murder mystery dinner parties as a kid, but since I was the youngen of the group, I was crowned “hostess.” Grr… (I would’ve made a GREAT psycho. ;))

  4. Stacy GreenStacy Green

    Very cool ideas, and I would love to do the murder mystery getaway at the B&B. I don’t think hubby would go for it, though. He’s so boring, lol:)

  5. ReettaReetta

    Sounds like a ton of fun 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think that there is a company in my hometown arranging murder mystery events. It would be a fun birthday present for my husband. We’ve both LARPed before but it’s been ages since the last time.

  6. Natalie HartfordNatalie Hartford

    Oh wow – love the ideas!! These are just fahhhbulous and what FUN! When I was 16, I worked at a Bed and Breakfast that did weekend murder mysteries. And one year hubby and I attended a Murder Mystery/dance New Year’s Eve party with a large group of friends. So much fun. I had no idea one could purchase kits to do their own “at home” party. I can’t WAIT to try it.
    Woot woot – fab post and thanks for sharing these great ideas.

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