The first time I remember encountering the “Murder Mystery Party” concept was during an episode of Saved By the Bell. The gang, deceived by their own Lisa Turtle, ended up convinced them there was a real killer among them (maybe Screech!), while Lisa played the fictional one.
With an influence like this, I knew I some day had to participate in one.
Last week my friend Tomlinson and his wife held a Circus-themed “Evening of Murder and Mystery” at their home. I was unaware of the circus-theme, and even more unaware that I was expected to arrive as a fortune-teller, until about twenty minutes before I had to leave. I’m not sure whether it should be considered alarming or completely awesome that I was able to pull from my closet the garb of a gypsy fortune teller, complete with Tarot cards and a crystal ball, at a moment’s notice. But off I went, head to toe psychic.
I arrived to a whole array of “characters”: the couple knows several actors and eccentrics, who went all out with their wardrobes for the evening. There was a sword swallower, strong man, acrobat, Venetian clown… the costumes were quite the site to see, and those who fully played along with their characters made the evening all the more hilarious and invigorating. (I even found myself faux-making-out with a big-haired knife thrower, part of the plot, to make a Renaissance performer jealous).
Each character is given a script, and agenda and fake money. Prizes were awarded to best costume, best acting, to the person with the most money in the end and to anyone who guessed the killer.
Before long, there was a murder right there in the middle of the room, and it was time to solve.
By evening’s end, I’d fallen off a tightrope and broken my ankle, robbed a dead girl, bought a man’s balls for $4.00 and married a traveling salesman. You know… just your typical night out in Chicago.
I was led completely off-the-tail of the murderer by a sub-plot, leading me to believe a jealous acrobat had tried to kill me during my tightrope act (leading me to a life grounded as the circus fortune-teller). In fact, everyone was led astray. The killer went free, perhaps to kill again at his next social gathering.
All in all, I can not recommend the “Murder Mystery” party idea, enough. It may take some coaxing to get your friends to play along but, if they do, it can only lead to one epic night.