Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Game’s Afoot—Battle Ground Drama Club—Battle Ground, WA

The Art In Murder

This comedy-mystery, “The Game’s Afoot:  or, Holmes for the Holidays,” is written by Ken Ludwig and directed by Stephan “Cash” Henry.  It is playing in The Lair at Battle Ground High School, 300 W. Main St., through November 18th.  For more information, go to their site for tickets www.payments.battlegroundps.org or contact the director for more information, henry.stephan@battlegroundps.org

The stage actor, William Gillette, was synonymous with Sherlock Holmes during the early part of the 1900’s.  He adapted Doyle’s character/stories for the stage, approved by Doyle himself, and played that character for more than twenty years.  Later, the screen saw Basil Rathbone (the best), Peter Cushing, Christopher Plummer, Charlton Heston (not good), and others don the mantle.  This play is about that real life actor and a fictional account of what would happen if he, himself, were involved in a murder case, or at least his alter ego.

In this incarnation, Gillette (Jack Harvison) is at home with his mother, Martha (Sabrina Scribner), and a few actors from his company on Christmas Eve in the mid-1930’s.  A couple weeks earlier he had been wounded during a curtain call from a shot from the audience.  It would not be unlike any sleuth, especially a Christie character, to gather a few of the “usual suspects” together to discover the identity of the murderer, oh, did I say murder, as a stage doorman at the theatre had his throat slit a short time ago and Gillette thinks there might have been a connection between that and his would-be killer.

The others at this gathering are his best friend, the flamboyant, Felix (Reagan Joner) and his dutiful wife, Madge (Sammy Carroll).  Also attending are the somewhat shy, Simon (Andre Roy) and his girlfriend, now bride, Aggie (Ceili O’Donnell).  But there are some unexpected occurrences that will happen that will move the plot along nicely, besides another murder, of course.  One is the gadgetry of the newly acquired house itself.  There are the bugging devices hidden about the rooms, a remote control, and the hidden, revolving room.  Also, an uninvited guest appears, the sexy but nasty critic, Daria (Samantha Erickson), who has dirt on all of them.  She is there, at Gillett’s request, as a Medium, so that they can conduct a Séance, to get in touch with the dead doorman’s spirit to find out who murdered him.

And so, before the evening is over, we will have one attempted murder, three actual murders, a jilted ex-girlfriend, an attempted poisoning and a sick dog.  They will all, of course, once Gillette has donned his Holmes persona, ferret out the killer.  He will be aided, too, by one of the first female detectives, Inspector Goring (Darian Dyer).  Of course, this being a mystery, I cannot reveal any more without being a spoiler.  But know that there are so many twists and turns by the end, you may be scratching your head wondering who’s who and what’s what.

The set and costumes (w/Julie Donaldson) by Sundance Wilson Henry are spot-on, as usual, as it shows her keen eye for detail, her creative talent and a knowledge of the period.  The director, Henry, always does well with Youth and this play is just another in a long line of successes with them.  I would hope someday they find a space of their own to perform, as they deserve it!  This works both as a pretty darn good mystery, as well as producing some very amusing gags to enhance it.

I have seen most of the cast before and they do fit their respective roles very well.  They all seem to have a duel character life, which only adds to the fun and suspense of the proceedings.  Aggie (O’Donnell), Simon (Roy) and both Gillette’s (Harvison& Scribner) are not necessarily outwardly what they appear to be and the actors do a good job of hiding this aspect of their personas.  Joner & Carroll seem the happy couple until we see’s what’s beneath, well done.  Dyer, as an empowering woman character, is a real treat, doing justice to the role.  And, Erickson, as the gal you love to hate, is both very alluring and very evil, quite a feat for this good actor.

I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.