Before the curtain even opened, student director Greyson Futrell seemed very pleased. The spotlight shone on the red curtain as Futrell slinked onto the stage. He read a few notes of thanks as he haphazardly tossed his note cards into the audience. The show, “Dinner and a Murder,” a comedy by David J. LeMaster, then began.
As the play begins, Joe (Thomas Broadbent) and his date, Mary (Hanna Oliver) enter a fancy restaurant before anyone else has arrived. Joe is feeling a tad self conscious because he doesn’t have much money and the hostess (Jaime Kelly) is acting about snobbish as she can, even by hostess standards. A few other people arrive and Joe’s evening just gets worse. The poor guy can’t tip because he didn’t bring any cash and Mr. Elsinore (Dominique Self) at the next table adds insult to injury by buying Mary a rose.
The night just gets stranger as Mr. and Mrs. Mithington (Gerard Gonzales and Amanda Craig) are angry at Joe for lying about his identity to get their favorite table. An annoying waitress with acting ambitions (Lindsey Darnall) keeps reciting Shakespeare and a cook with a fragile ego (Suzanna Sadler) is clashing with the restaurant manager (Cally Felton). Meanwhile, two old ladies (Jennifer McGill and Jessica Harrell) are talking nonsense and Mrs. Elsinore (Ashley Sleet) is being ignored by her husband.
And, of course, there is the most unusual aspect of the evening: it’s murder night. The restaurant manager informs Joe and Mary that the night is very popular and that tables are reserved far in advance, hinting that they aren’t worthy of being there.
“We have a murder permit,” she says, in case Joe was wondering how this is considered legitimate business.
In fact, the whole night is an opportunity for the great Detective Rathbone (Morgan Beeker) to demonstrate her skills. The restaurant manager even says that Rathbone is so good that the event was created just to give her something to do since solving murders is so easy for her. As people start to drop dead, the selfish Mary indifferently dines on “the special,” succulent lobster that the cook has provided her. By the end of the play, connections between characters are discovered (and bluffed) and every character seems to die an entertaining death at least once. Or twice.
The cast of 16 clearly seemed to enjoy presenting the convoluted plot. The audience was full of family members and others who laughed all evening.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.