Murder Mystery

My health isn’t good and I am the only caregiver for my disabled mother so apart from the grocery store and doctors’ appointments there are times I don’t leave the house. And since I don’t watch much TV I end up spending a lot of time at the computer. So for the past year and a half or so I have been writing a murder mystery stage play that I may be able to submit to a local amateur theater group. The story is set in a nursing home. The murder victim is an elderly judge whose wife found out after he had a stroke that he has been cheating on her the whole time they were married and has been paying his mistress a fortune in child support to keep her quiet. But the wife used to be the fiancé of one of the other residents of the nursing home and she dumped him and took up with the judge while he was presiding over a lawsuit the fiancé had with a business partner. It ends up that the director of the nursing home had gone out of her way get the judge’s wife to place him in this particular nursing home so the audience will think she lured him to his death. And it turns out that either the head nurse or the social activities director at the nursing home (I haven’t decided which yet) is the judge’s illegitimate daughter. Now my problem is having a way to let the audience know all of this without simply having a character explain it, and I want the only stage setting to be the dining hall of the nursing home so doing anything at a police station or an office at the nursing home is not possible. Anyone have any ideas?


Sr Mod/Webmaster
Staff member
Senior Moderator
I love murder mystery dinner theatre, but I'm absolutely horrible at it because it's always difficult for me to understand the motives when usually everyone has what they consider to be a good motive. I think our local theatre just created scenarios where every person would take turns being guilty. From the ones that I've seen, they usually gather the characters around one event such as a party or a family reunion and then the audience gets to hear the characters chat back and forth privately about their various affairs, schemes, and plots.
I like the concept of murder mystery parties, and I would rather use this format for what I am writing and let the spectators act like characters, but the theater group that I can send the script to is strictly a theater group so they can't do anything for audience participation (no dinner, no party). We had a murder mystery dinner theater here a while back, but it used a very simple format and the owner was trying to be restaurant manager, theater producer, show director and chef all at the same time so the place closed after just a few months.

Since I cannot have audience participation I have gone ahead and made the plot more complicated that I would have otherwise- 2 murders and an underlying plot involving things being stolen. One murder is pretty straightforward, but killing the judge has been harder than I was planning for.

I’ll send you the script I have so far if you’d like to read it. I am going to need someone to read it anyway before I send it to the theater to make sure I don’t have any loose threads or unresolved plot issues.
Ever since I saw a TV version of Witness for the Prosecution (Deborah Kerr version back in the ‘80s) I’ve usually enjoyed Agatha Christie. About a year ago I finally got a copy of Mousetrap and was utterly disappointed. I don’t see what all the hype is about. And Then There Were None and WFTP were far better.

I was reading Sherlock Holmes in the 6th grade (I’m fascinated by the Victorian Era), but I’ve never really cared much for cop shows (Law and Order is enough to make me want to be an anarchist). However I enjoy shows like Murder She Wrote and Quincy M.E. because I like the format. But like you I seldom paid enough attention to the details to figure out who the killer is. I am trying to write my mystery in the Murder She Wrote style, but I am not sure I am presenting the details well enough to give people a chance to notice them but without making it obvious that I am explaining the clues needed to solve the mystery.