x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai Dinner Theatre Group brings murder mystery to dinner table

The newly set-up Dubai Dinner Theatre group is promoting interactive drama with its themed dinners at different venues around town. The Family, their second murder mystery dinner, will be hosted at the Lounge Cafe Italiano Media City on June 19.

Dubai Dinner Theatre group is promoting interactive drama with its themed dinners at different venues around town. The Family, their second murder mystery dinner, will be hosted at the Lounge Cafe Italiano Media City on June 19. Courtesy Dubai Dinner Theater Group
Dubai Dinner Theatre group is promoting interactive drama with its themed dinners at different venues around town. The Family, their second murder mystery dinner, will be hosted at the Lounge Cafe Italiano Media City on June 19. Courtesy Dubai Dinner Theater Group

If you decide to attend Ron “Big Daddy” Brundizi’s mafia-themed party this week, you’ll be seated among criminals. Someone gets killed after the first course, by the second you’ll be playing detective and, hopefully, be able to nab the murderer right after dessert. The newly set up Dubai Dinner Theatre Group is promoting interactive drama with its themed dinners at different venues in town. Its second murder mystery dinner, The Family, will be hosted at the Lounge Cafe Italiano Media City on Thursday.

Play date

The Dubai-based Rodger Talty began writing and directing modern mystery dinners three years ago while he was the chairman of the Dubai Drama Group. The concept caught on and the themed plays became a mainstay at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Talty created the Dubai Dinner Theatre Group this year to involve even more theatre enthusiasts.

“Dinner theatre is a good way to get the audience involved in the play,” says Talty. “And actors have the freedom to try out new things. It is also a way to meet new ­people.”

The evenings also allow actors who work day jobs to pursue their passion without committing too much of their time.

“Acting in a full-length play takes a long time,” says Talty, who is a quantity surveyor in Abu Dhabi. “Even the shortest play requires two to three months of rehearsals.

“And this format depends on knowing the premise of the story and improvising from there; it does not require much rehearsal time. We can put it together in five or six rehearsals.”

Murder over dinner

Talty spent six weeks working with Lounge Cafe Italiano Media City’s management and a cast of seven actors to put the Italian mafia spin on the play.

Diners who book a three-course meal at the restaurant are encouraged to dress up: for men, fedoras and pinstriped suits; for women, black dresses and fishnet ­stockings.

“It’s not mandatory, of course, but it will put them in the mood,” says Talty.

After the starters have been served, the actors will instigate the murder scenario while mingling with the crowd; a question-and-answer session with the audience leads to the culprit being exposed by the end of the meal.

“We will be constantly talking to the audience and will be among them,” says Talty. “There isn’t a stage, so the action happens between the tables.”

Working with the audiences makes the proceedings less predictable, but the actors can think on their feet and steer the proceedings towards the scripted ­outcome.

“We always scan for people who seem like they’ll be up for some role-playing,” says Talty. “For example, we can assign someone to be a doctor examining the body. But whatever he says won’t change the story, just add a bit of humour to the setting.”

• The Family dinner theatre will be hosted at Lounge Cafe Italiano Media City on Thursday at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at Dh250, which includes a three-course meal. For reservations call 04 453 3318 or 055 763 3952. For more information, visit facebook.com/dubaidinnertheatre

aahmed@thenational.ae