Pour a glass of wine, grab a plate of dinner, and bunker down for a murder taking place, right on your computer screen. You’ve entered the world of Auntie Boddy. People regularly die in her presence, and everyone’s a suspect, including you.
Murder Mystery Dinner Party is the perfect place for budding armchair detectives. Every Saturday night, you can join Auntie Boddy in her world of murder and try to solve the latest crime. It’s a world that sucks you in, and being virtual due to the pandemic doesn’t require you to live in the neighborhood of a live performance – although live performances are forthcoming. The mystery is structured like Clue, although not affiliated with the game or Hasbro. Fans of that game will immediately recognize the weapons, rooms, and characters, with some switch ups here and there. Although the mysteries and locations change from time to time, my group experienced the Mystery at Boddy Mansion.
I entered Boddy Mansion with a character I picked out prior to the game – Miss Clementine who ran the Fruity McFireflies bookshop, which just so happened to play Firefly reruns all the time (which is why I selected her). There were others in the room, as well, all playing their chosen or assigned characters. We were asked to get an item from our home that resembled the character we played, so, of course, I grabbed a clementine. It was fun to watch everyone gather their items and prepare for play. Although we are invited to eat dinner over Zoom, a lot of us opted not to, which did not impact the gameplay. We did all have drinks, ranging from Auntie Boddy’s red wine to my Diet Dr. Pepper. Prior to starting, one of the participants had some technical difficulty in finding their script, but Auntie Boddy guided her along nicely, and very shortly, we were ready to play. We had been advised beforehand to bring along pen and paper, so I had mine at the ready to take every note.
From the comfort of the mansion’s dining room, Auntie Boddy wove a tale for us, heralding us into Boddy Mansion and setting the scene. We read our pre-written introductions, some in character (I chose a Southern accent.), which added to the entertainment value. Soon enough, there was a murder, and we all became suspects. We each had alibis to read, and there was a lot of improv. Again, all the participants were amazing and each played up their characters in a way that made it seem so real. This low-level LARPing element ended up being my favorite part, and we laughed our way through every turn in the mystery.
After we alibied out, we were able to explore the mansion via breakout rooms. This was exceptionally cool because not only did we get to find murder weapons and which rooms they were in first hand (instead of being told), but I also didn’t know this was a Zoom function. Auntie Boddy used it in the best possible way, and each of us wandered in and out of the three available rooms at will before being called back into the dining room. We discussed our findings and explored options, but around then, one of us realized we could ask Auntie Boddy to show us the other rooms in the mansion. One room at a time, we were transported into the other areas, where we found more weapons and other interesting things pertinent to our mystery.
At that point, we discussed some more, provided special information that we had on our scripts, and asked questions of each other. There were a couple no-shows on participants, but we gained their alibis and information from Auntie Boddy, who kept it within the confines of the game and atmosphere so we wouldn’t “notice” the absence of those characters as much. We were then invited to submit our guesses to Auntie Boddy. These consisted of the three things familiar to Clue players: murderer, weapon used, and room in which the crime was committed. We continued our discussion as those guesses came in until the murderer, weapon, and room were announced. Three of us correctly guessed, and since I submitted first, I won the bragging rights for having solved a virtual crime.
As an active participant, I can highly recommend Mystery at Boddy Mansion as an enjoyable, relaxing, brain-teasing online event. The mystery wasn’t so difficult that you’ll be fried at the end of the night, and the company was wonderful. And because the mysteries change, it makes it a highly re-playable event. What’s more is Auntie Boddy plans on taking the mysteries live very soon. After the game, I was more than happy to interview Cortney Matz (a.k.a. Auntie Boddy) to learn more about her, the murder mysteries, and the future of her venture.
Angie Martin, Fanbase Press Contributor: How long have you been doing the murder mystery?
Cortney Matz: I’m a lifelong fan of Clue (the game, the movie, the lifestyle) and have always dreamed of creating a life-size version. When the pandemic hit Los Angeles in March 2020, all I wanted to do was play Clue. At the same time, I was struggling to connect with friends and family over the internet – it was so exhausting to try to have a conversation and also navigate the technology. But when I adapted my life-size idea into a virtual format, it answered both needs. And voila! Auntie Boddy was born. She hosted her first virtual dinner party on April 26, and very many more have followed.
AM: What got you into murder mysteries?
CM: It’s tough to remember which came first, but I learned to read on Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. I still have clear memories of playing Clue with my dad (the 1980s version of the board game, with a suave collection of shady characters on the box top). Dad taught me my first bit of Clue strategy and then I was hooked. I still remember begging my parents for Clue: the VCR game in 1990. I got it for my tenth birthday, so it must have been somewhere between the ages of 7 and 9 that my love for the game first took root.
AM: What is the cost to attend?
CM: Tickets are $15 per guest, but I offer occasional discounts to my email subscribers. In-person events are also beginning to emerge, and those are priced individually.
AM: Are the mysteries every Saturday night?
CM: Public dinners are every Saturday night, although former guests are also eligible for VIP dinners which are scheduled according to everyone’s availability.
AM: When do you estimate to go live again in Los Angeles?
CM: We currently have two in-person mysteries scheduled for Los Angeles; one is announced for Mother’s Day weekend (with a True Crime theme). The other is TBA, but it centers around Hollywood history and some of the famous faces and places on Hollywood Boulevard. Follow Mystery Dinners on Eventbrite or subscribe to our email list for updates.
AM: Anything else you think I should add?
CM: Even though I live in Los Angeles, I am traveling around the country and collaborating with game designers around the world. 2022 will bring new mysteries to a wide range of neighborhoods and locations, including Sleepy Hollow, New York, and Warsaw, Poland. If you want to bring a mystery to your corner of the world, I hope you’ll reach out and let me know! dinners (at) mysterynuts (dot) com. I love bringing people together over a good meal and a great mystery.
Email: dinners (at) mysterynuts (dot) com