WEST JORDAN — It was done in the __________, by ____________, with the ____________. Can you prove me wrong?

Fill in the blanks and show off your sleuthing skills during Poison Ivy Mysteries’ newest production. Far from a “sit back and enjoy the show” show, Curse of the Scarab requires participation. Like the board game Clue, you must figure out who dunnit, the weapon used and the motive. Unlike the game, though, you only get one chance to solve this mystery.

Getting Settled

When you first enter the restaurant (as this is interactive dinner theatre) you are escorted to a private show room. Upon entering you are served dinner, and as you eat you get a chance to mix with the actors and get to know their characters.

Let the Show Begin

Set in the roaring ’20s, Curse of the Scarab starts with the opening of a new Metro Museum exhibit, featuring the Scarab of Ra. The final piece of the ancient artifact has finally been unearthed and the team responsible has gathered to witness the historic ceremony as the piece is set in place. Yet strange things begin to happen once the scarab comes together. A curse begins afflicting the group, one by one. Before they can reverse the curse someone is murdered. But who did it?

Meet the Suspects

Kitty Parkhurst (Sammee Pearson) is an ambitious magazine reporter, anxious to get the scoop on more than just the scarab. Walter Ives (Jake Wilson) is the lowly intern with a love for Egyptology and a desire to achieve more than his assistant status. Natasha Clutchcoin (Julie Benedict) is a young widow with a definite interest in all things Egyptian and all things metaphysical. She prides herself on her ability to read palms. (She even read my lifeline and predicted that I would soon be in for a surprise).

Fitz Gerald (Criss Rosenlof) is tough mobster with a soft spot for the arts. Minnesota Minnie (April Tritchler) is the young, feministic archeologist responsible for finding the fifth and final piece of the Scarab of Ra. Clarence Cromwell (Jim Schroeder) is the museum curator. Although he is excited about the new artifact, he resents the fact that a woman found it, as he believes they don’t belong in the workplace.

Who Dunnit

Two audience members that came prepared!

After the dastardly deed has been done, the audience is given 20 minutes to investigate and solve the crime. During the performance I attended, the audience was definitely not shy in interrogating the suspects. One group even went so far as to dress up as Sherlock Holmes, complete with the trademark deerstalker caps and detective pipes.

We then turned in our guesses and watched to see the plot conclude, and the real murderer confess. Afterwards, those who deduced correctly were entered into a drawing for gift certificates and returning tickets. (Unfortunately Natasha’s prediction wasn’t too far off, as I guessed incorrectly).

The Verdict

I must admit that I was excited at the prospect of attending a murder mystery dinner, especially so close to Halloween, and I walked away rather satisfied with the experience. The actors did well at personifying their characters, and each kept a consistent accent (which is big plus in my book). The costumes also helped define the characters. From a flapper dress and archaeologist outfit to a tweed suit and mobster tux, the group was well dressed for the bootlegging, speakeasy era. Jeremy Tritchler (whose role I am not at liberty to divulge without spoiling all the fun) brings a whole new element of humor to the mix and is sure to make you laugh.

While the show was fun, it was not a jazzed-up performance. The set was very simple, mainly consisting of a display stand for the scarab. A glance around the room reveals other artifacts, but the action draws your attention and makes the scant scenery superfluous. The lighting was useful in moving the plot along. Red lights flashed each time the curse struck.

Despite all of the twists in the plot, the thing that surprised me the most was the music. At random intervals the cast would burst into song, carrying out pieces of the plot to music. While some of the lines were quite humorous, the songs seemed out of place. (But maybe that was just because I didn’t expect a musical).

While the director does not reveal her intents in the program, it is clear that Annelise Murphy (who also wrote the show) is all about making it a fun, light-hearted evening for everyone involved. Every effort was made to invoke audience participation, including cue cards, question cards, and several opportunities to mingle with the actors or even join them on the stage.

All in all I found it to be quite an enjoyable evening. But as with every audience participation event, the show is what you make of it. If you approach it with a sit-back-and-let-them-entertain-you-without-any-effort-on-your-part attitude, you may be disappointed. However, if you go in with the intent to get in on the fun, grill the actors and solve the mystery, you are in for a swingin’ good time!

Curse of the Scarab plays Friday and Saturday nights through October 29 at Buca di Beppo (935 E. Fort Union Boulevard, Midvale) or Famous Dave’s Barbecue (7273 W. Plaza Center Drive, West Jordan). Tickets, including dinner, are $30-36. For more information, visit poisonivymysteries.com.