Experience an interactive “whodunit” in Spy School playing at Mysteriously Yours in Toronto
This is not my first time at the Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre. In fact, it’s my third, having celebrated two company holiday parties there in the past. I had a grand ole time during my previous visits and had a feeling I’d enjoy myself just as much this time in. Considering my admiration for 007, Mission: Impossible, and to a lesser extent, Austin Powers flicks made this particular story, Spy School!: Mission Ridiculous, that much more inviting.
An evening at the Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre begins at 6:30 pm with a three-course dinner. Enjoying dinner at the theatre is indeed optional, but I would suggest making a full evening of your time there. The varied menu is quite delicious and rather filling.
The show portion of the evening begins around 8 pm as a few loud and boisterous characters make their way around the tables, interacting with each other and, of course, you. They’ll sit themselves down at your table, chat you up, maybe flirt a bit, and ask you a bit about yourselves. You are, of course, welcome to fire questions back at them. Often they will let you in on bits about themselves that will be useful for the case at hand. Use the back of the playbill to take notes.
In Spy School, the audience members are new recruits at the Aquatic Spy School set inside a submarine. The school is lead by Elron Hubris (Danny Wengle) and soon we meet the staff and alumni including Austin Mini (Ken MacDougall), Natasha Fatale (Clare Preuss), Katie Kidman aka Agent XTC (Miriam Drysdale), Bond (Tom Melissis), and Ethan Runt (Simon Esler). They play up everyone’s favorite spy caricatures and tropes. Through their interactions, we learn that a murder has been committed of a fellow spy — but who did it? Pay close attention to their interactions with each other as well as what they tell you directly. It’ll lead to the answer.
The sheer enjoyment of this show comes from the witty banter being exchanged between actors, as well as how they interact with the crowd. The amount of fun you’ll have is entirely based on how much of yourself you’re willing to give to the experience. Audience participation is quite obviously a given here. If you ask the characters the right probing questions, you’ll learn quite a lot that will lead you closer to solving the mystery.
My date, Vance, and I were quite impressed by how dedicated Esler was to playing Ethan Runt (who is Ethan Hunt as portrayed by Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible). He committed to his portrayal of Runt, which was moreso a portrayal of Tom Cruise in all his wacky, zany, couch-jumping ways. He also delivered the most physical performance of the cast.
We also enjoyed the work of Wengle as Elron Hubris (a take on L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology), again for his dedication to character. Vance found that MacDougall did a fine job in doing the Austin Powers impersonation in his improv while mingling with the crowd, but less so when acting the set points with the other characters.
Personally, I found Preuss’ role of Natasha Fatale fun and likable. The spy trope she portrayed was a bit of a mixed bag with Drysdale as Agent XTC — they both took on varying aspects of the Femme Fatale. Though Preuss was fun to interact with, I found her shifting accent (at times she sounds Russian and then it shifts to German, then…somewhere else in northern Europe) distracting. Unfortunately, I found Drysdale’s character rather unmemorable –she only seemed to come to life near the end.
All in all, Spy School is definitely a lot of fun to take part in, and a night at Mysteriously Yours is certainly worth checking out. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Solving this particular mystery is tricky as, unlike the previous two mysteries I attended, the murder happened in the past and the audience does not get the chance to witness the victim interact with the other characters to establish motive. But solving it is indeed possible — I mean, I did.
- Spy School!: Mission Ridiculous is playing at the Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre (2026 Yonge St) until March 26, 2016.
- Performances run Fridays and Saturdays. Dinner service begins at 6:30 pm, show at 8 pm.
- Tickets are $81 for the dinner and show or $45.20 for the show only on Fridays, $87 for dinner and show or $50.85 for the show only on Saturdays.
- Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 416-486-7469 or toll free 1-800-NOT-DEAD (668-3323). Seniors 65+ and full time students can receive a $5 discount.
- Audience advisory: The mysteries are written for adults and feature somewhat risqué material and double entendres (although there is no swearing). Recommended for children ages 10 and above. Children under 6 are not permitted.
Photo of (clockwise from left) Tom Melissis, Ken MacDougall, Danny Wengle, Clare Preuss, Simon Esler, and Miriam Drysdale provided by Mysteriously Yours