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Superhero! A Bam! Zap! Pow! murder mystery and dinner

by Drew Rowsome - Photos by Cylia von Tredemann

Canadian SHIELD is busy solving the murder of Captain Fantasmic from the planet Laxdoria, an event which has interrupted the smooth flow of the opening night dinner of The Superhero Convention. It is also the latest murder, Superhero!, to occur at Mysteriously Yours Mystery Dinner Theatre (Getting HitchedSpeakeasy!Once Upon a MurderUpton AbbeyThe Fine Art of Murder: A Sherlock Holmes MysteryApprentice to Murder . . . You're Fired). 

Solving a murder is not as easy as one might think, and neither is the balancing act that Mysteriously Yours must perform on a consistent basis. Art, commerce and murder are uneasy bedfellows: if the show is too highbrow, a mainstream audience is puzzled. Too lowbrow and the cast is bored and theatre aficionados sneer. The trick is finding a reference point that is part of the cultural zeitgeist and then using the comic tools to spoof it into a souffle of laughs. Superhero! gets it right. 

The evisceration of the ludicrousness and pompousness of the latest crop of superhero films is satire of the finest form. There are also digs at the commercialization of good deeds, Canadianism, new age beliefs, and a very clever joke referencing Caitlyn Jenner and trans issues. Part of the fun is watching Pierre Alain Trudel, one of the writers and also The Rat, chuckle at improvisations and the timing, and mistiming, of lines. He, and his team of superheros, are busy finetuning while flying full tilt, leaping tall tales in a single bound. 

The dinner also has to please both mainstream tastebuds and pretentious foodies. Chef Justine Voutt pumps out mass meals with just enough unusual accents to straddle the divide. And the desserts are super, the Nutella Brownie rocks (our server, the perky Margit, notes that,"You can't go wrong with chocolate") and the Dulce de Leche Pot de Creme is absolutely villainous. 

The cast are all pros, many are murder mystery veterans who have killed, and killed it, before. Birgitte Solem is Frozina (yes there is a "Let It Go" joke that is hilarious but then milked past its expiry date) and she never breaks character to chill. Stephanie Folkins as Axoria works wonders with another audience member: there is one little girl who will be dreaming feminist empowerment and of gracing the stage. 

Precious Chong is a delightfully ditzy, and perpetually spinning, Wondering Woman. Ken MacDougall is saddled with all the exposition and PSAs as the investigating Canadian SHIELD but he struts and puffs his chest with aplomb. But the best spandex-filling is done, metaphorically and physically,butt and bulge, by Simon Esler as El Chihuahua Furioso. He seduces, preens and yaps, a perfect parody of what makes a hero super. 

There is one major flaw with Superhero! Usually the clues are so intricate, or outrageous, that I am bemused when I leave having been a failure as a collaborating detective. This time I was so close that I could taste it and missed by forgetting one obvious hint early on. Otherwise it was bam zap pow super.

Longer, more detailed review at drewrowsome.blogspot.com

Superhero! continues until at least Sat, Oct 31 at The Mysteriously Yours Mystery Dinner Theatre, 2026 Yonge St. mysteriouslyyours.ca


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