The Lower East Side Murder Mystery--the Ryan Case
nytheatre.com review by Gyda Arber
June 12, 2010
If you've ever secretly wanted to play one of those murder mystery party games, but have been afraid to take the plunge, The Ryan Case is for you!
As the show begins, you are assigned to one of six groups, evenly divided among the attendees. After a quick introduction by Police Chief Thomas Byrnes (played by the engaging George Crowley), welcoming you as a new detective to the force and explaining the basic facts of the case, your group opens up your detective's kit, which contains a map to follow, pads and pencils, a detective's cap (to be worn by one member of your team), and photos of suspects to track down.
At this point your group is invited to venture out, following the map, to meet and question the suspects in the case, stationed around the streets of the Lower East Side where the crime occurred. The cast is excellent, especially the luminous Audrey Crabtree, whose loud cries of "coal! coal!" drew strange looks from Chinatown's shopkeepers and passersby, but drew peals of laughter from our now tight-knit group. Each suspect you meet (five in total) reveals more information about the case, and by the time you make it back to the starting place, you are invited to discuss the facts of the case with your group, and decide who you believe the killer is.
The enjoyment of the show seems to depend a lot on your group's dynamic; I was lucky enough to be joined with a very fun group of people, but one of the other groups seemed to have some dissension in their ranks, especially when deciding on the killer (it was difficult to reach a consensus, as everyone had different theories; perhaps being directed to take a vote would cut down on the conflict). After each group presents their theory of the case, the suspects are brought in, and, as fingers are pointed, a confession is drawn out, and the killer marched away, off to jail.
Carlo D'Amore has crafted a fun evening, especially for a group of friends. It's like your very own murder mystery party, but with professional actors, taking place on the streets of New York City.