My Gay Toronto - 416 Scene

Getting Hitched: Mysteriously Yours serves up dinner, parodies, puns and Psycho

Photos by Raul Da Silva

"You had me at cobbler."

Actually Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre's interactive murder mystery Getting Hitched had me well before dessert. The line quoted was the comedic detonation at the end of a long double entendre strewn rapidfire speech between a delirious Austin Powers and an animal print-clad Norma Bates who, as Archie Hitchmock noted, "looks like she lost a fight with a sexy zoo." In the hands of Debbie Collins and Allan Cooke - both of whom shone in Speakeasy! - the rapid escalation of nonsense, puns, sexual tension and sheer giddiness, becomes the art form that Mysteriously Yours strives to achieve.

That Archie Hitchmock is a parody of a parody wearing Cary Grant's original name and that Cooke's spot-on Hitchcock impersonation (all sonorous self-mocking pompous and menacing tones) seems lost on the majority of the audience. Hitchcock, and his films, seem to no longer be popular culture touchstones. Co-writer Birgitte Solem's Tipsi Hedrush is merely an amusing over-imbiber inexplicably wearing a hat festooned with birds, and her very clever joke linking recovery with a Hitchcock classic falls flat when only a few of the audience members are familiar with the title.

The solution is to mix in Mad Men references, specifically Tom Melissis' manic Mac Guffin ("an advertising man sent on a wild goose chase. A real ladies man nicknamed Bouncy, the quicker picker upper"), and the advertising slogan jokes fare better than the Hitchcockian references. Thankfully all are familiar with the concept of Norman Bates though Paddy Forde's hilarious verbal tour through Hitchcock's cameos recast as psychotic memories doesn't get anywhere near the laughs it deserves.

No matter. The cast is probably used to audiences who have been lulled into receptive catatonia by a big meal and a few drinks, they just redouble their efforts and energy until the laughs begin to build their own momentum. The meal is a show of its own, distributed with balletic precision by a cast of servers seemingly culled from a modelling agency. Tom, the bearded Nordic god, even manages to smile and retain all his composure and clothing while distributing food, and a lot of drinks, to a bachelorette party that makes The Birds look like an intentional comedy.

The new chef, Justine Voutt, plays it safe (there are a lot of people to be fed and quickly) but when she risks the results are stellar. The soup of the day, a sweet potato and chipolte, is perfect for a winter's night with a hot and smokey bite. And I can't rave enough about the salted chocolate pot de crème topped with a crunch of caramel popcorn. I have to tear myself away from the last morsels when elegantly daffy Stephanie Folkins as Kelly Grace, the bride-to-be, drops by the table to dispense the first of many clues and red herrings. She flashes a gargantuan diamond ring given her by her fiancé, the Prince of Monaco,

It's so sweet. He had it polished to the exact sheen of his sweet bald spot. Every time I look at it, I think of him.

The Prince of Monaco is played by a previously innocent audience member and participation, like laughter, is mandatory. Melissis makes mincemeat of my lack of improvising skills, and a youngster pressed into playing Hitchcock's stunt double, much to the delight of everyone including the cast, upstages all.

Hitchcock fans and film buffs will have an edge but anyone can knock back one of the specialty cocktails - Norma's Cougar Juice, Kelly's Rear Window, Tipsi's Raven, etc - and then settle back in blissful contemplation of an impending murder impeccably executed.

Getting Hitched runs at least until the end of March, at the Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre, 2026 Yonge St.