A MANAYUNK MYSTERY TOUR (Manayunk Theatre Company): 2019 Fringe review

Manayunk Mystery Tour photo KOShadowy figures lurk on the dark towpath under the Green Lane Bridge. That would be us, the audience next to the murky, stagnant canal as we wait for the Manayunk Mystery Tour to begin.

It’s a bit creepy. The troupe arrives, led by a former police officer who has gotten in some kind of trouble, so he’s now a P.I. (Matthew Windham). We are the Search Party for this investigation and we’re asked to bring up our Instagram accounts to follow along. (Instagram isn’t really necessary, so don’t worry about that.) A young woman has gone missing. She could be kidnapped. She could be MURDERED. A failing podcaster (John Patouhas) covers the event as “the dark side of this quiet little town.”

Threatening messages and instructions arrive on Instagram. An outlandishly costumed woman (Lize Meisenzahl) is afraid of Reptoids (lizard people who may be out there in the dark), and claims to be the missing woman’s former girlfriend. She finds some evidence. But things may not be what they seem. As we follow along in the dark, occasional bicycles whiz past, and our leader assures us that “Cyclists have zero regard for your life.”

Written by Matthew Windham and directed by Lexa Grace, The Mystery Tour is different. It’s funny, it’s spooky, it’s a 60 minute adventure. And it’s free – but see it soon. The show closes after the late night September 15 performance. Location, location, location really makes this project work. [Manayunk Towpath, Main Street and Green Lane] September 12–15, 2019fringearts.com/event/a-manayunk-mystery-tour

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Kathryn Osenlund, theater and film junkie, is a former National Critics Institute fellow, NEA fellow in Arts Journalism, and member of the American Theater Critics Assn Steinberg and Osborn playwriting awards committee. A Barrymore Award nominator and professor emeritus in communications and theater, Kathryn also writes for NY-based CurtainUp.com. On twitter @theatrendorphin.