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The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays
a Comedy/Thriller
by Ken Ludwig

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 4527

SHOWING : December 06, 2013 - December 22, 2013



It is December 1936 and Broadway star William Gillette, admired the world over for his leading role in the play Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast-members to his Connecticut castle for a weekend of holiday revelry. But when one of the guests is stabbed to death, the festivities in this isolated house of tricks and mirrors quickly turn dangerous. Danger and hilarity are non-stop in this comedy whodunit set during the Christmas holidays by the author of "Lend Me A Tenor."

Director Robert Egizio
William Gillette Bryan Brendle
Madge Geisel Amanda Cucher
Aggie Wheeler Jennifer Holden
Daria Chase Cara Mantella
Simon Bright John Markowski
Martha Gillette Jackie Prucha
Inspector Goring Holly Stevenson
Felix Geisel Jacob York
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Holmes for the Farce-Deprived
by playgoer
Monday, December 16, 2013
Ken Ludwig’s "The Game’s Afoot" takes place in a room of the Gillette mansion, which as a place actually exists near Hartford, Connecticut. William Gillette made his career on the stage by performing as Sherlock Holmes for years in the early twentieth century, giving him his stereotypical look (deerstalker cap and caped coat) and giving us the line "Elementary, my dear Watson." Ken Ludwig has taken this kernel of truth and woven a farce-tinged thriller from it.

The story takes place at Christmastime, but there’s mighty little in Chuck Welcome’s set design that invokes the holidays. There’s a wooden nutcracker that is used as a weapon, but other than that there’s little that indicates Yule in the room in which the action takes place. That’s not to say that the set design is less than what we’ve come to expect at Stage Door Players. The room is lovely in proportions and design, and contains a nifty revolving bar/wall section and a lovely outdoor snow effect through French doors. John David William’s lighting design enhances the set, and contains nice lightning effects for a rare Northeast blizzard of a thunderstorm.

The action takes place in 1936, and Jane Kroessig’s costumes and George Deavours’ wigs reflect the time period. These are wealthy people we’re seeing, and the costume designs are elegant. We even get to see the stereotypical Sherlock Holmes outfit, first in the onstage play finale that starts the play, then later when Gillette decides to investigate a murder.

There’s infidelity, a poisoning, a fake murder, a real murder in which the victim does not die immediately, and motives abounding. It’s fun, but the ending doesn’t really ring true, given the confessions that have preceded it. The journey is more the point than the ending.

The cast of characters for both acts includes William Gillette (Bryan Brendle), his mother Martha (Jackie Prucha), his co-star Felix (Jacob York) and Felix’s wife (Amanda Cucher), and his co-star Aggie (Jenny Holden) and her beau (John Markowski). For the first act, we’re joined by critic Daria Chase (Cara Mantella), and in the second act, we’re joined by Inspector Goring (Holly Stevenson). It’s these two one-act performances that really make the show. The others perform admirably, but Daria and the Inspector are the juiciest characters, both played to perfection.

Director Robert Egizio deserves the lion’s share of praise for the success of this production. The show’s somewhat brittle dialogue needs to be fired off with a rapid pace, and the 30’s characters need to be played with panache. Mr. Egizio has inspired his actors to give just what the show needs to downplay its deficiencies and enhance its qualities. "The Game’s Afoot" may not be Ken Ludwig’s best work, but Stage Door Players is showing it to advantage as its holiday offering. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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