We are invited down two steep flights of stairs to a nightclub that deliberately evokes the 1940s. One expects to bump into Humphrey Bogart or Ingrid Bergman. But tonight we're going further back in time, to Victorian England and the world of master detective Sherlock Holmes. And these performers and restaurateurs give a damn.
There is a buzz of excitement in the room, but the meal starts calmly. Our cute-enough-to-be-an-appetizer server Mark is all smiles, flirty banter and efficiency. Has the show already started?
Mark is justifiably proud of the food and points out his favourites -- a potato, pear and parsnip soup that is delicious; boneless ribs in a Guinness gravy that would give Rob Ford an apoplectic fit (the potato-encrusted salmon is equally tasty); and a sticky toffee bread and butter pudding that, sorry Mark, is not as lip-smacking as the chocolate brownie -- while nodding without judgment when we make our choices. His only severe mis-step is being impervious to coercion, or even bribes, when asked to reveal whodunit (there are prizes).
The action escalates before the plates are cleared as Irene Adler (the sexy and hilarious Barb Scheffler) arrives at our table in a voluptuous storm of possible clues and intentional misdirection. The game is afoot. The next to arrive is Dr Watson (the extremely energetic Danny Wengle), who provides the most tantalizing clue of the evening as he denies that he and Sherlock Holmes are involved. He is here with his fiancée, Anita Plummer (a feisty Kristen Corvers), and Holmes just likes to "urinate together as the sound of water helps him think." This most intriguing sub-theme is, tragically, virtually abandoned as the action heats up. It is especially tragic because Sherlock himself (a dapper and impossibly tall, dark and handsome Ian Ronningen, who grabs control of the proceedings and never lets go) would make a wonderful kinky sex object.
A Holmesian scholar would probably make short work of the mystery -- my casual reading of many of the stories provided several vital cues -- and would find even more hilarity in the puns. And the script, credit to Brigitte Solem, artistic director Brian Caws and the cast (who can't resist adding what seemed to be impromptu ad-libs that shattered the fourth wall but upped the fun), is packed -- PACKED -- full of puns. Solem, who, tragically, has given herself less to do dramatically in this production, has the best moment: a riff on her name and ice cream flavours and brands -- the Countess Clotilde Hagen-Das -- that is priceless. Other double, triple and quadruple entendres are more groan-worthy, but the sheer volume of the barrage reduces one to helpless laughter. Best to just roll your eyes and succumb.
Despite my disappointment in the lack of a Holmes/Watson water-sport scene (note to the Pink Triangle Press social committee: it would be very interesting to see what the cast would do with a ribald gay audience stoked by an open bar at the Christmas party; Ms Scheffler's musical naughty numbers would surely become raunchy, XXX-rated fun), the entire audience was highly entertained. The Mysteriously Yours crew are very good at what they do and do it with such enthusiasm and energy that it is infectious (posing for endless photographs at the end must be agonizing when strapped into a corset). A killer of a fun way to spend an evening.
Photos by Raul Da Silva
The Fine Art of Murder! A Sherlock Holmes Mystery runs till Wed, Feb 6 at the Mysteriously Yours Mystery Dinner Theatre, 2026 Yonge St. mysteriouslyyours.com