Arts-Louisville Reviews
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Performing Arts

September 19, 2017
 

Dr. MacCrimmon I Presume?

Francis Whitaker, Heather Hensley, John Campbell Finnegan, Ben Rogers, Sarah Eberhardt (pictured). character now played by Sarah Mackell (inset) & Megg Ward in Murder by Quarry. Photo by Joey Goldsmith.

Murder by Quarry: The Case of the Murderous Masterpiece

By A.S. Waterman
Directed by Erica Goldsmith

Review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2017 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Whodunnit Murder Mystery Theater is serving up lots of drama and crimes of the heart in their current installment at the Downtown Bristol. A family is ripped apart by art, love, and murder, and a well-known detective in the Whodunnit catalog is on the case. All the flair and usual fun come to life in Murder by Quarry as the mystery brims to the surface with misdirected red herrings, clues and guilty suspects.

The great thing about Whodunnit is the opportunities for actors to interact with the audience. Truly this is a practice in basic improvisation and I’ve personally believed that this sets Whodunnit apart from other theaters in the community. These in-between scene interactions allow the cast to stretch their acting muscles and create larger than life traits for these characters. When done well, these improvisations help the murder mysteries go from seeming campy to earnestly entertaining. Sarah Mackell, Ben Rogers, Francis Whitaker, and John Campbell Finnegan each gave energetic and convincing interactions throughout the performance and took the “yes, and…” approach to theatre to a whole new level.

During the scripted scenes, each actor brought solid performances despite a rowdy table of patrons just off to the side of the performance area. Heather Hensley delivers a delightful rendition of “My Passion” and was able to drown out the excess noise from other parts of the restaurant. Her portrayal of the recent widow Duchess Henrietta is innocent enough and played with shadowy undertones. Ben Rogers is shifty-eyed and cunning as Carlton, the bitter and vengeful nephew of the deceased Duke. Megg Ward brings subtle untrustworthiness to her French caretaker, Elyse, misguiding the audience and providing a fully realized twist at the end of the show.

As this is a period piece set in 1908, the strongest performances belong to those who fully committed to their roles throughout the entire evening. In his “back by popular demand” portrayal of Dr. MacCrimmon, Francis Whitaker proves himself a Whodunnit favorite with energetic magnitude. His detective is a curious surrogate for the audience who relies on a keen Sherlock Holmesian attention to detail. John Campbell Finnegan brings a spirited portrayal as the Russian Count Alexei Federov. Finnegan shines as a character actor with this nuanced performance, complete with a strikingly authentic accent. Sarah Mackell rounds out the cast with a supporting role as Hetty, the Duke’s sister recently released from an asylum. Mackell is fluttery with delightful naiveté with rambles and stammers about her recently murdered brother.

Despite faulty sound cues, a disruptive audience and music leaking into the performance space from the outer area of the Bristol, Whodunnit put on a good show filled with twists and turns and solid performances.

Murder by Quarry: The Case of the Murderous Masterpiece

Saturdays, September 16 – October 28, 2017

Whodunnit Murder Mystery Theater
Bristol Bar and Grille
614 W Main Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
www.whodunnitky.com

 

Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!





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