Justin Emmett, John Thwing, Alexis Paxton, Shelly Marquart Reid, Avery Curtis, Todd Padgett & Dan Remaks in The Case of The Reluctant Mummy. Photo: WhoDunnit

The Case of The Reluctant Mummy

Written by Sherry R. Deatrick
Directed by Rita Hight

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

An Egyptian coffin found inside a sarcophagus is expected to contain a dead body, specifically, a mummy, a body that has been dead for thousands of years. So why does the coffin at the center of The Case of The Reluctant Mummy draw the interest of Private Detective Virgil McFall (John Thwing)?

For this world premiere, playwright Sherry Deatrick chooses for her setting the United States side of Niagara Falls in 1928, where Professor Porter Wrigglesworth (Dan Remaks) and his assistant Mildred Yost (Avery Curtis) have arrived to deliver such a coffin to Carol Lister’s (Shelly Marquart Reid) Museum of Oddities. The Professor has also brought along Waleed El-Ella (Todd Padgett) from Egypt, one of two brothers who had also been assisting him.

We also meet a British couple, Stu and Rexanne (Justin Emmett and Alexis Paxton), newlyweds honeymooning in Niagra Falls. Deatrick makes them a tidy spoof of the obnoxious American tourists that have lived as cliches for generations.

The playwright did their research, filling the dialogue with plenty of Egyptian history and culture. As silly as the story may prove to be, this is a smart script.

With tousled hair and clad in a rumpled trenchcoat, her sleuth is clearly modeled on Columbo, and John Thwing brings the requisite raspy voice into play. But unlike Columbo, who hides his savvy intelligence, McFall displays his powerful observation skills out in the open. 

Overall, the ensemble does a good job. Dan Remaks nicely balanced the professional academic with a streak of mischief, and Alexis Paxton perfectly captures the overly enthusiastic tourist vibe of Rexanne. Like almost all characters in a WhoDunnit show, they seem to be hiding something. Todd Padgett was a delight playing his role broadly for comic effect. He risks playing the fool but the laughs he earns are a good contrast to the more serious aspects of murder.

My perfect record of never solving the mystery remains intact, but watching WhoDunnit shows has taught me that I would rather track how the detective puts it together than play detective myself. I know that goes against the nature of the format not to play the game, but when I was younger I read Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen and it was the same. The fun is in the storytelling.

Featuring Avery Curtis, Justin Emmett, Todd Padget, Alexis Paxton, Shelly Marquart Reid, Dan Remaks, & John Thwing

The Case of The Reluctant Mummy

Saturdays, May 13 – June 10 @ 7:00 PM

Admission begins at 6:30 pm/Show begins at 7:00 pm

WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater
Bristol Bar & Grille Downtown
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 / 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.