John Trueblood, Nicole Heumann, & John Campbell Finnegan in WhoDunnit’s Murder by Post: The Strange Case of Nigel Drew.

Murder by Post: The Strange Case of Nigel Drew

Script, Direction and Musical Score by A.S. Waterman

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2018 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

The Angus MacCrimmon mysteries are among my favorite WhoDunnit scripts. They more or less follow classic structures for mystery stories, most notably the presence of one recurring detective who, like Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, or Jane Marple, has no official status with any law enforcement agency. MacCrimmon is a physician, so he brings the analytical mind of a scientist to his investigations.

MacCrimmon is called in by Captain Madigan (Marc McHone) to consult – re: “solve” the murder of John Morden, at The Mad Hatter’s Tea Shop. The suspects include the imperious Miss Letitia Gravestone (Shelly Marquart Reid), Mr. Bellweather Hennypenner (Niles Welch), Mr. Matthias Phenigore (John Trueblood), and Miss Heather Black (Nicole Heumann). One other rather murky individual, named Moth, is also present, with a true identity better left unsaid here. All were summoned to the Tea Shop by anonymous letters.

Also better left unsaid is any further synopsis. This is a classic format, and unless you have never read it on the page or seen it on the screen, you have some expectation of what you will encounter. A genre is satisfying in part because it is comforting, yet it must also keep you guessing. WhoDunnit mysteries are puzzles to be solved, and they are not easy.

John Campbell Finnegan is the third actor I have watched portray the Scottish doctor in Louisville, and while the others were compelling, I appreciated the commanding authority he brought to the role, as well as the sustained Scottish brogue.

As for the remaining ensemble, John Trueblood was a standout as Phenigore, the eccentric, snake-oil con man who gets the lion’s share of the laughs. Shelly Marquart Reid was delightfully grandiloquent as Miss Gravestone, one part Theda Bara, one part Tallulah Bankhead, and a dash of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. These two also excelled at the table walks among patrons between scenes. As Miss Black, Nicole Heumann was as stiff and unyielding as the double thick yardstick she wielded to scold the others, and Niles Welch was properly OCD as Hennypenner, whose desire for order begged for some deeper connection to be revealed between him and Miss Black. Marc McHone showed enough good humor in his Capt. Madigan that it was a shame he was onstage for so brief a time.

One of Waterman’s strengths is that she rarely settles for the surface elements of the genre. Given the dinner theatre format, a good puzzle would likely suffice, but Waterman is fond of cross-generational narratives that illuminate family histories and invite a deeper examination of the psychological aberration inherent in a morbid genre. Sure, it’s entertaining to populate the stage with a group of colorful characters and earn easy laughs, and Murder by Post easily accomplishes this, but raise a toast to the thoughtful context and subtext that goes along with it.

Murder by Post: The Strange Case of Nigel Drew

September 15 – October 27, 2018

Seating at 6:30 / Show starts at 7:00

WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater
At The Downtown Bristol
614 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202


Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM /, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for