Murder is not funny… unless it’s at Clague Playhouse, where Jack Sharkey’s MURDER ROOM is playing now through October 7, 2018. Directed by Ron Newell, this madcap mystery has all the twists and turns that are perfect for a Fall thriller.
A crime spoof set in Yorkshire, England, the story begins with squabbling just hours after Mavis (Debbie Jenkins) and Edgar Hollister (Lou Will) are married. The ink is barely dry on their marriage license, yet Mavis is in despair over how much she hates being married.
From here things get strange, as some cocoa, a cat, a gun, and Edgar’s “disappearance” all lead into a 3-Act story of deceit, confusion, mistaken identity and more. Joining the pandemonium are housekeeper Lottie Malloy (Nancy Allen), Edgar’s daughter, Susan (Caitlin Halstead), Susan’s fiancé Barry (Simon Sedmak), Inspector James Crandall (Terry Smith), and Edgar’s doppelganger, Constable Abel Howard (also Lou Will).
Lottie thinks she knows a bit about everything, having served the Hollisters for decades. Susan isn’t quite the sharpest tool in the shed, but she means well in her own naïve way. Barry is around for moral support. Inspector Crandall seems to be a bit of a snoop, and Constable Abel just keeps showing up asking all sorts of questions. And everyone is looking for answers. What happens to Edgar’s estate if he’s found dead? Who inherits the money? What is this about a secret door?!
The dialogue as fast-paced and well executed by this cast. In a play structure that requires pieces of rapid-fire conversation, they do an excellent job of moving the magic of the story without strange pauses or hang-ups.
The set is intimately designed by Ron Newell, as it uses every cranny of Clague’s cozy space to capture the crowd into the calamity. Lance Switzer’s lighting is invitingly ominous, and Dan Meyer’s sound design is full of things that go bump in the night. Kudos to Candace Lipton for the well-appointed costumes, and to Lisa Wiley for keeping the ship running as Stage Manager.
Landing around 2 hours and 30 minutes with 2 intermissions, MURDER ROOM is a long one. There is plenty of intrigue to keep the audience interested, and luckily the cast and production staff make the time pass easily with their skillful execution.
MURDER ROOM plays now through October 7, 2018 at Clague Playhouse. Tickets are $10-$18 and are available online at www.clagueplayhouse.org or by calling the Box office at 440-331-0403. Clague Playhouse is located at 1371 Clague Rd, Westlake, OH 44145.