“I’ve decided that I’m dressed like this because I filmed my last movie in Mexico and got really inspired,” I said to AK. I was wearing an embroidered Mexican dress belted to look like a mini skirt, lots of folk-art jewelry and big white sunglasses. “I now donate one percent of the proceeds from my perfume sales, after costs of course, to children’s charities in Mexico.”
Next to me in the car, AK was dressed in jeans, blazer and baseball cap. She was director Peggy Marshall and I was actress Raquel Tilson, and somehow we’d agreed to do this for Julie and Andrew’s murder mystery party, which had a Hollywood-party-in-Mexico theme.
“The invitation said you’re not allowed to make up clues,” AK said.
“That’s impossible,” I said. “That would be so boring. Come on, what’s Peggy like?”
“She’s obviously gay.”
“Maybe Raquel is trying to sleep with her to get cast in her new movie, Gingey,” I suggested.
“Look, if you want to do some role playing later, just say so.”
In college, Stephanie’s friends were always LARPing, which for the non-geeks among you, refers to Live Action Role Playing. They were loud, irreverent theater kids, so their LARPS tended to feature crazy themes (Roller Disco, and in a moment of distinctly poor taste, Plantation), lots of sexual innuendo and lots of staged violence. There were no preset outcomes, and any character could kill any other character by smashing him over the head with any blunt object, yelling out, “Blunt object!” as he did so.
Most of the guests Saturday night were people from Julie and Andrew’s church. I don’t think anyone even swore in character, let alone stage-raped anyone.
This was something of a relief, since playing with Steph’s friends—the one time I did so—was a little like trying to play dodge ball and write a novel at the same time. AK was right: We couldn’t make up clues. All I had to work with was that Raquel was a klepto who had stolen murder victim-to-be Bari Drewmore’s diamond necklace.
When I got tired of talking to suspects, I just roamed the room and put people’s stuff in my bag, including Zangelina’s two children (a stuffed bunny and bear). At one point she got in my face and screamed at me, and when it came time to write down our accusations, I wrote, “Suspect: Zaneglina. Motive: She’s a bitch.” I also got accused of stealing some guy’s envelope o’ clues and even though, hello, of course I know that’s out of bounds, I did think for a minute, Wait, did I?
So yes, I now know what actors are talking about when they describe how some really dark character took them to bad places.
Murder mystery dinner theater is just like that.
In the end, I turned out to be the killer. Who knew? I didn’t want Bari (interestingly, the name of my ex...) to call the cops on me, so I attacked her with poisonous spiders. I gave the best reading I could of my confession speech, but no one laughed. Like any actress worth her over-sized shades, I blamed the script.