SANDY — I haven’t seen a Hunt Mysteries production for about a year and a half. Based on my last experience, I was expecting an interactive show with mediocre talent to accompany my dinner. Fun, but a bit laborious at times. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with this show. I’m thrilled to say that The Revolutions of Our Lives was thoroughly entertaining from start to finish!
As its title suggests, the murder mystery takes place on the set of a soap opera – the perfect breeding ground for unexpected plot twists and emotional outbursts, where the overacting is intentional. The audience played the part of producers who were watching the recording session for the soap’s season finale. Some audience members were given the chance to volunteer for a more substantial role, receiving speaking lines or appearing in musical numbers as backup dancers. The printed guide on the table encouraged the audience to not worry about solving the murder until the end. Relieved at the thought of not having to try and catch obscure clues, I turned my attention to the talent of the actors.
You really have to appreciate the improvisational skills of the cast. They introduced themselves one at a time at the tables before the show even began. As I ate my salad, I learned how the characters interact with each other. I was a little bold in getting to know them, and asked probing questions which only proved how well the actors were able to stay in character. They were well prepared, and had plenty to say when no one at the table did. And yes, they did have some awkward moments, which gave me and my date something to talk about to the strangers sharing our table.
The improvisation didn’t end when the show started. In fact, I had a hard time deciding where to define the difference between script and improv. It certainly helped that two of the actors, Kelland Davis (playing Lance Issygay) and Caleb Parry (as Jethro Hasselhoff), currently perform with a local improv troupe. They even incorporated a few familiar improv games into the script (Accents, Hecklers)! My favorite scene was when Sheri Gillies (in the role of Lucinda Petitediva) delivered a witty Mary Poppins impersonation, thanks to an audience suggestion.
The music was smart, and the singing wasn’t bad. The songs were clever and packed with humor that had the audience howling with laughter – myself included. Keep in mind that the music isn’t about vocal technique, and the choreography is by no means professional. It’s all about character, and it was delivered beautifully. Diana Moore (Regina Deeva) impressed with “It’s Hard to be a Diva.” And Josh Robinson’s (Chris Emoten) physical tantrum during “Tainted Love” was absolutely hysterical. And I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting to hear such a great voice come out of Devin Turner (Cam the Camera Man).
I understand that Hunt Mysteries has had a history of sound problems. If what I’ve read from recent reviews is true, then they’ve either acquired better equipment, or I had a really lucky night. I didn’t detect any technical problems other than a very brief stint of mic popping and one cast member singing louder than the mic’s threshold would allow on a couple notes.
I finished my meal just as it was time to solve the mystery. The audience was instructed to get out of their seats and interrogate the suspects. Only the murderer was allowed to lie. We were provided with suggested questions, in case we weren’t able to come up with our own. The provided questions point you in the right direction, but it’s up to you to ask the right questions to the right characters in order to get the evidence you need to solve the mystery. I didn’t crack this case, but there were several audience members who did. Three of them received prizes for correctly identifying the who, how, and why, while I remain jealous.
I know I’ve been underwhelmed by Hunt Mysteries productions in the past, but I can’t stop thinking about how much fun I had at The Revolutions of Our Lives. The jokes weren’t forced, and the comedy was gold. The environment was pleasant, and the cast was inclusive. I know some people—not I—feel uncomfortable with that level of audience interaction. But unless you think you’re one of them, I suggest you see for yourself what I’m talking about.