Bobby Smith, Gage Holmes, John Heffley, Marc McHone, Nicole Heumann, Blake Wilkerson, & Katherine Summerfield. Photo: Whodunnit Murder Mystery Theater.
Murder in Cairo: The Wrath of Ra
By Graham V. Bell
Directed by Erica Goldsmith
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2019 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Murder in Cairo pays tribute to vintage mysteries from the 1930s, with a solid Agatha Christie period setting in which Hercule Poirot would feel right at home.
The time is before the end of British military domination of Egypt, and Inspector David Thomas (Marc McHone), a loyal servant of the British Empire, has come to the Cairo home of Sir Henry Blake to investigate his murder. The suspects are his wife, Lady Vivian (Katherine Summerfield), their servant, Gertrude Rose (Blake Wilkerson), Henry’s sister, Angeline (Nicole Heumann) who believes she is the reincarnation of the Goddess Isis, Jacques Le Bec, (John Heffley) a French diplomat and his protégé Pierre Vallon (Gage Holmes) who has been working for Blake, and Rafique ben-Ali (Bobby Smith), an Egyptian antiquities expert engaged by Blake to authenticate his collection.
There is enough humor to keep ponderousness at bay, and enough twists to satisfy the demands for red herrings. The previous production of this script several years ago was played broadly, but director Erica Goldsmith fashions a more understated approach for this iteration, so that one can enjoy the subtle distinction between Heffley and Holmes’ French accents, the former full of comic malapropisms, the latter so soft and muffled but curiously intelligible. Smith keeps his Egyptian character from slipping into an onerous stereotype. The rest of the cast manage fair English dialects, although there were moments when it felt as if we were being taken on a tour of the full range of working-class Great Britain.
The setting (by Chris Miske & Heather Hensley) and costumes were good, evocative enough of both period and location, and Mr. McHone and Mr. Smith both sported particularly well-chosen designs in facial hair.
Graham V. Bell’s script is economical and more than fair about laying out clues for the audience to solve the mystery before the dessert course is served (a particularly light and delicious Lemon Cake with Raspberry Sauce).
By recalling the vintage, Murder in Cairo courts political incorrectness in a time when such topics as Imperial Colonialism are emblematic of the clash between cultures dominating the 21st century, but this production manages to be sensitive enough to such controversial foundations while remaining a solid and reliable entertainment.
Murder in Cairo: The Wrath of Ra
May 11 – June 29, 2019
(May 18th show is sold out. No show May 25th)
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, where he is Managing Editor of their Artebella blog, and host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com. 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 Arts-Louisville.com.