The rain pounds on the roof. The customers sip their cocktails. There's been a murder—someone stabbed the chef. Special Agent Eliott Penn begins his investigation. The eyes of the taxidermy remain impassive.
Somethin' Burning is Cafe Nordo's dinner-theater homage to Twin Peaks, and the upstairs room at Theater Off Jackson looks just right: the Roadhouse mixed with the Great Northern Hotel, communicated economically with mounted heads of fauna, a mountain-and-pine mural that broils to fiery backlit life, a cross-section of log, an antler chandelier, and a live band channeling Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise on a black-and-white zigzag-painted stage. The rain is coincidental. (The lights between acts—when the actors function as servers, bringing four courses of clever, if not outstanding, takes on breakfast food—are blindingly spotty.) Evan Mosher acquits himself admirably in the Dale Cooper/Kyle MacLachlan role: Straitlaced in his suit and tired around the eyes, he's filled with the zeal of the truth seeker and touched in the head. His performance is focused, calm, and suffused with an underlying glee. His moments with Matt Manges, who plays Lynch's shouty bureau chief (and the drums in the band), will do the hearts of Twin Peaks fans good.
Nordo's Northwest "Lynchian fever dream" has a strange Southern bent: the name of the production (with its lonely remaining "g"), a server's accent, the purported Texas origins of suspect Delores Black (Kiera McDonald, amusingly hammy). All three of the accused are the heaviest-handed of stereotypes, to an end that seems to mystify even the performers. Two bikers effortfully reinforce a pedestrian anti-chain-restaurant theme. As the night wears on, one scene is enacted three times over, and the menu begins to look long; three-plus hours later, with little of Lynch's seeping symbolism or creeping evil in evidence, you may not much care who done it.