3. “Welcome. You are most welcome…”

So, I’d done Broadway, seen comedy, viewed films; but for a completely different night, I went for a murder mystery dinner courtesy of The Killing Kompany (www.killingkompany.com). I also venture the furthest outside of Manhattan I’d been - Middle Village in Queens to Niederstein’s restaurant.

It felt like stepping back in time upon entering the foyer, like visiting the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, which houses the first class dining suite of the Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic. Warming atmosphere in Niederstein’s, but I was unsure which function room was mine, especially as there were so many different types of people blocking the foyer. As long as I didn’t have to follow the Derby and Joan club into the main room, then that was fine. But, with sod’s law, this was of course my function. Optimistically, there are six large tables in the room - Derby and Joan taking up one side of the room; the trendier and younger peeps the other. So I am looking for Table No.2 and, yes, you’ve guessed it, slap-bang-wallop right in the middle of the Derby and Joan’s. Bloody hell!

There were only two other people at the table – one of the actors at the other end of the table and a little old lady, who I can only describe as a Jewish Nana. I struck up a conversation with her.

“I’m waiting for my pals,” she told me in the broadest NY accent I had heard since my arrival.

“Oh good.”

“You not local?” she asked.

“No. I'm from England.”

“Goodness. England! And you’ve come here to this dinner tonight? [I thought this was obvious via my attendance!] Well, wow! Welcome. You are most welcome.”

There was a pause as she toasted me with her glass of water; I toasted her back. By now, Nana’s pals had taken their seats next to her.

“This girl is from England,” she told them.

“Oooh, England. And you’ve come here to this dinner tonight? Well, wow! Welcome. You are most welcome.”

I nodded in courtesy and smiled warmly. What time did the show start?

The Killing Kompany is headed by New York actor Jon Avner. Jon starred in New York’s first murder mystery dinner show at Sardi’s Restaurant and is now one of the leading actors of this genre. Jon has also travelled all over the world performing murder mysteries; as well as appearing in many Broadway and off-Broadway shows, TV and films. Some of the other performers have appeared in such diverse productions from Broadway’s ‘A Street Car Named Desire’ to movies like ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and ‘Sister Act I&II’. High credentials. But does this come over in the show? Absolutely. All of the actors have the natural knack of comic timing and charisma to entertain in this intimate setting of Niederstein’s.

Whilst the main course is served, you get the chance to go through the clues, as there is a prize if you name the killer. So all in attendance are encouraged to have a go.

I am way off course with my guess, I'd thought about it too much, believing a contrived, story of revenge had taken place instead of the more obvious murderer. But the winner was only my dining companion. Who was thrilled and over-excited – she shouldn’t have had that third glass of red.

Dessert and coffee round off the evening, as Jon Avner chats with each table. Jon writes the shows, and so is easy-going to talk about it and its concept. A fine egg.

Sharon Race February 2003