IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: No mystery why IRT closes season with whodunit

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

The mystery/thriller used to be a stage staple. Such populist hits as “The Mousetrap” and “Sleuth” stayed put for long runs in New York and London with audiences looking for little more than fun characters and a few clever plot twists to justify an evening of theater.

They’ve become rare, though, at least in big Broadway houses. Too frivolous to justify the big ticket prices? Best writers migrated to TV and movies? Whatever the case, you don’t find Sherlock Holmes or others of his ilk traipsing around Times Square these days.
 

ae-mainzrp-8899-15col.jpg Among the five suspects in “The Game’s Afoot” is former IRT mainstay Priscilla Lindsay, left. (Photo/ Zach Rosing)

Yet they remain a key ingredient in the regional theater mix, as evidenced by the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “The Game’s Afoot” (through May 18) … and next season’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” There’s something comforting about these efforts, where there’s a kind of innocence to the murder and mayhem. It’s contained (usually in a stately mansion), the characters are well-dressed, and the evil-doers (usually) punished.

Sure-footed and with no real desire to explore new territory, Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” grafts a fictional mystery onto the real-life character of William Gillette, who played Sherlock Holmes on stage. During the curtain call for one such Holmesian adventure, Gillette (Matthew Brumlow) is shot from the balcony, one in a series of deadly acts that lead to the gathering of suspects at Gillette’s estate on Christmas Eve. (The play’s subtitle, “Holmes for the Holiday,” has been dropped for obvious seasonal reasons.)

Among the suspects/potential victims are his fellow actors, an oddball police detective, a low-life theater critic (aren’t they all?), a pair

of newlyweds (including one who’s also newly widowed) and Gillette’s dotty mother.

Ludwig, best known for the door-slamming farce “Lend Me a Tenor,” is as interested in the comedy as he is in the thrills. And IRT has assembled a cast that gamely complies. Real-life couple Rob and Jennifer Johansen prove particularly nimble as Act II opens. I’ll refrain from revealing specifics, but suffice it to say a weekend at the Gillette estate isn’t far, experientially, from a weekend at Bernie’s.

They’re all playing types rather than rounded characters. Jennifer Johansen’s Daria isn’t far removed from the self-centered actress she played earlier in the season in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” at the Phoenix Theatre. Matthew Brumlow’s Gillette shows echoes of the actor-ly actor he embodied in the IRT’s “Who Am I This Time?”. Priscilla Lindsay’s Martha might have walked in from “Arsenic and Old Lace.” But Ludwig and Director Peter Amster keep the characters busy enough that there’s little time to notice how paper-thin they’ve been written.

In stage thrillers, context can be as important as character. Here, key accomplices in the show’s success are Scenic Designer Russell Metheny and Costume Designer Tracy Dorman, both of whom anchor the play in rich detail. The revealing of the main set garnered as much clapping as the entrance applause for longtime IRT staple Lindsay, returning to the stage for a visit after four years in academia. Her return is as comforting as this production.
__________

Rarely does a brand-new play—unless penned by playwright-in-residence James Still—find its way to the IRT stage. But thanks to Associate Artistic Director Courtney Sale, the first in what is hoped to be a series of satellite readings of new work took place at Indy Reads Books April 27. The play is Sherry Kramer’s “How Water Behaves,” which concerns an economically challenged couple who stumble into a moral quandary over a fictional do-gooding charity.

Since this was a script-in-hand, free reading of a still-in-development play, it’s not fair to offer a critique of the work. But I will say that the cast—including Josh Coomer, Thomas Cardwell and Lisa Ermel—gamely met the challenge, and the small crowd that gathered seemed fully engaged, although public post-show discussion was not encouraged because the reading pushed against store-closing time.

Sale said she’s hoping to schedule two or three of these next season. I’ll try to keep you posted as they are announced.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

The mystery/thriller used to be a stage staple. Such populist hits as “The Mousetrap” and “Sleuth” stayed put for long runs in New York and London with audiences looking for little more than fun characters and a few clever plot twists to justify an evening of theater.

They’ve become rare, though, at least in big Broadway houses. Too frivolous to justify the big ticket prices? Best writers migrated to TV and movies? Whatever the case, you don’t find Sherlock Holmes or others of his ilk traipsing around Times Square these days.
 

ae-mainzrp-8899-15col.jpg Among the five suspects in “The Game’s Afoot” is former IRT mainstay Priscilla Lindsay, left. (Photo/ Zach Rosing)

Yet they remain a key ingredient in the regional theater mix, as evidenced by the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “The Game’s Afoot” (through May 18) … and next season’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” There’s something comforting about these efforts, where there’s a kind of innocence to the murder and mayhem. It’s contained (usually in a stately mansion), the characters are well-dressed, and the evil-doers (usually) punished.

Sure-footed and with no real desire to explore new territory, Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” grafts a fictional mystery onto the real-life character of William Gillette, who played Sherlock Holmes on stage. During the curtain call for one such Holmesian adventure, Gillette (Matthew Brumlow) is shot from the balcony, one in a series of deadly acts that lead to the gathering of suspects at Gillette’s estate on Christmas Eve. (The play’s subtitle, “Holmes for the Holiday,” has been dropped for obvious seasonal reasons.)

Among the suspects/potential victims are his fellow actors, an oddball police detective, a low-life theater critic (aren’t they all?), a pair

of newlyweds (including one who’s also newly widowed) and Gillette’s dotty mother.

Ludwig, best known for the door-slamming farce “Lend Me a Tenor,” is as interested in the comedy as he is in the thrills. And IRT has assembled a cast that gamely complies. Real-life couple Rob and Jennifer Johansen prove particularly nimble as Act II opens. I’ll refrain from revealing specifics, but suffice it to say a weekend at the Gillette estate isn’t far, experientially, from a weekend at Bernie’s.

They’re all playing types rather than rounded characters. Jennifer Johansen’s Daria isn’t far removed from the self-centered actress she played earlier in the season in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” at the Phoenix Theatre. Matthew Brumlow’s Gillette shows echoes of the actor-ly actor he embodied in the IRT’s “Who Am I This Time?”. Priscilla Lindsay’s Martha might have walked in from “Arsenic and Old Lace.” But Ludwig and Director Peter Amster keep the characters busy enough that there’s little time to notice how paper-thin they’ve been written.

In stage thrillers, context can be as important as character. Here, key accomplices in the show’s success are Scenic Designer Russell Metheny and Costume Designer Tracy Dorman, both of whom anchor the play in rich detail. The revealing of the main set garnered as much clapping as the entrance applause for longtime IRT staple Lindsay, returning to the stage for a visit after four years in academia. Her return is as comforting as this production.
__________

Rarely does a brand-new play—unless penned by playwright-in-residence James Still—find its way to the IRT stage. But thanks to Associate Artistic Director Courtney Sale, the first in what is hoped to be a series of satellite readings of new work took place at Indy Reads Books April 27. The play is Sherry Kramer’s “How Water Behaves,” which concerns an economically challenged couple who stumble into a moral quandary over a fictional do-gooding charity.

Since this was a script-in-hand, free reading of a still-in-development play, it’s not fair to offer a critique of the work. But I will say that the cast—including Josh Coomer, Thomas Cardwell and Lisa Ermel—gamely met the challenge, and the small crowd that gathered seemed fully engaged, although public post-show discussion was not encouraged because the reading pushed against store-closing time.

Sale said she’s hoping to schedule two or three of these next season. I’ll try to keep you posted as they are announced.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

The mystery/thriller used to be a stage staple. Such populist hits as “The Mousetrap” and “Sleuth” stayed put for long runs in New York and London with audiences looking for little more than fun characters and a few clever plot twists to justify an evening of theater.

They’ve become rare, though, at least in big Broadway houses. Too frivolous to justify the big ticket prices? Best writers migrated to TV and movies? Whatever the case, you don’t find Sherlock Holmes or others of his ilk traipsing around Times Square these days.
 

ae-mainzrp-8899-15col.jpg Among the five suspects in “The Game’s Afoot” is former IRT mainstay Priscilla Lindsay, left. (Photo/ Zach Rosing)

Yet they remain a key ingredient in the regional theater mix, as evidenced by the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “The Game’s Afoot” (through May 18) … and next season’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” There’s something comforting about these efforts, where there’s a kind of innocence to the murder and mayhem. It’s contained (usually in a stately mansion), the characters are well-dressed, and the evil-doers (usually) punished.

Sure-footed and with no real desire to explore new territory, Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” grafts a fictional mystery onto the real-life character of William Gillette, who played Sherlock Holmes on stage. During the curtain call for one such Holmesian adventure, Gillette (Matthew Brumlow) is shot from the balcony, one in a series of deadly acts that lead to the gathering of suspects at Gillette’s estate on Christmas Eve. (The play’s subtitle, “Holmes for the Holiday,” has been dropped for obvious seasonal reasons.)

Among the suspects/potential victims are his fellow actors, an oddball police detective, a low-life theater critic (aren’t they all?), a pair

of newlyweds (including one who’s also newly widowed) and Gillette’s dotty mother.

Ludwig, best known for the door-slamming farce “Lend Me a Tenor,” is as interested in the comedy as he is in the thrills. And IRT has assembled a cast that gamely complies. Real-life couple Rob and Jennifer Johansen prove particularly nimble as Act II opens. I’ll refrain from revealing specifics, but suffice it to say a weekend at the Gillette estate isn’t far, experientially, from a weekend at Bernie’s.

They’re all playing types rather than rounded characters. Jennifer Johansen’s Daria isn’t far removed from the self-centered actress she played earlier in the season in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” at the Phoenix Theatre. Matthew Brumlow’s Gillette shows echoes of the actor-ly actor he embodied in the IRT’s “Who Am I This Time?”. Priscilla Lindsay’s Martha might have walked in from “Arsenic and Old Lace.” But Ludwig and Director Peter Amster keep the characters busy enough that there’s little time to notice how paper-thin they’ve been written.

In stage thrillers, context can be as important as character. Here, key accomplices in the show’s success are Scenic Designer Russell Metheny and Costume Designer Tracy Dorman, both of whom anchor the play in rich detail. The revealing of the main set garnered as much clapping as the entrance applause for longtime IRT staple Lindsay, returning to the stage for a visit after four years in academia. Her return is as comforting as this production.
__________

Rarely does a brand-new play—unless penned by playwright-in-residence James Still—find its way to the IRT stage. But thanks to Associate Artistic Director Courtney Sale, the first in what is hoped to be a series of satellite readings of new work took place at Indy Reads Books April 27. The play is Sherry Kramer’s “How Water Behaves,” which concerns an economically challenged couple who stumble into a moral quandary over a fictional do-gooding charity.

Since this was a script-in-hand, free reading of a still-in-development play, it’s not fair to offer a critique of the work. But I will say that the cast—including Josh Coomer, Thomas Cardwell and Lisa Ermel—gamely met the challenge, and the small crowd that gathered seemed fully engaged, although public post-show discussion was not encouraged because the reading pushed against store-closing time.

Sale said she’s hoping to schedule two or three of these next season. I’ll try to keep you posted as they are announced.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. In reality, Lilly is maintaining profit by cutting costs such as Indiana/US citizen IT workers by a significant amount with their Tata Indian consulting connection, increasing Indian H1B's at Lillys Indiana locations significantly and offshoring to India high paying Indiana jobs to cut costs and increase profit at the expense of U.S. workers.

  2. I think perhaps there is legal precedence here in that the laws were intended for family farms, not pig processing plants on a huge scale. There has to be a way to squash this judges judgment and overrule her dumb judgement. Perhaps she should be required to live in one of those neighbors houses for a month next to the farm to see how she likes it. She is there to protect the people, not the corporations.

  3. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/03-111.htm Corporate farms are not farms, they are indeed factories on a huge scale. The amount of waste and unhealthy smells are environmentally unsafe. If they want to do this, they should be forced to buy a boundary around their farm at a premium price to the homeowners and landowners that have to eat, sleep, and live in a cesspool of pig smells. Imagine living in a house that smells like a restroom all the time. Does the state really believe they should take the side of these corporate farms and not protect Indiana citizens. Perhaps justifiable they should force all the management of the farms to live on the farm itself and not live probably far away from there. Would be interesting to investigate the housing locations of those working at and managing the corporate farms.

  4. downtown in the same area as O'malia's. 350 E New York. Not sure that another one could survive. I agree a Target is needed d'town. Downtown Philly even had a 3 story Kmart for its downtown residents.

  5. Indy-area residents... most of you have no idea how AMAZING Aurelio's is. South of Chicago was a cool pizza place... but it pales in comparison to the heavenly thin crust Aurelio's pizza. Their deep dish is pretty good too. My waistline is expanding just thinking about this!

ADVERTISEMENT