Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's elementary, Watson

A few days ago I saw a production of Sherlock Holmes with Salty Dinner Theater. We've discussed four main types of stages:

proscenium(classic stage)
theater in the round(audience surrounds a small stage)
amphitheater (raised, outdoor seating)
thrust stage (platform)

This dramatic production was unlike any of those. Instead, the players were in vivo: we ate at tables in a room at Thanksgiving Point, and the actors mingled among us. It was a murder mystery, and you had to outwit Sherlock to guess the killer. Sound cheesy? It is.

All theater requires a suspension of disbelief, but this mode of acting had more in common with improv theater, with none of its liveliness. The script was incredibly corny; almost painful, in fact. The only character whom I found to be remotely entertaining was Watson (below left), since he was completely committed to his character.

Part of the pleasure of the mystery genre is unraveling it yourself. The killer was insultingly easy to guess. The possibility of dramatic tension was raised, and unceremoniously dropped.

The food was serviceable, but unmemorable, much like the production itself. Theater in the milieu is interesting as a concept and could be quite avant-garde, really, but I would pass on dinner theater in the future.


  1. Still, you lead an interesting life, Charly.

    1. “I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.”
      ― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

  2. Never attended a dinner theater before, and while I still might, this sounded awful! Sorry you didn't enjoy it. On the other hand, you mentioned Sherlock Holmes and I couldn't help but think of the BBC's television production of Sherlock. It is wonderful, and if you haven't checked it out (and are a Sherlock/Doyle fan), I suggest you do!

  3. Of all the theater-types I've performed in, this is the one I'm happy to say I've never tried. However, I have attended a couple. The first was a Shakespearean dinner, and it was just as painful as it sounds. My second risk was taken at--coincidentally--a murder-mystery...play...attempt.

    Fail annnnd....double-fail.

    1. No joke. It's just too hard to pull off well. Something about that fourth wall ... it's like "ohp, disbelief not suspended in 3, 2, 1."

      Honestly, our Willy Loman skits were more entertaining. At least we were self-aware.