(From left to right) Rebecca Henderson, Graham Troop, Beth Olliges, Niles Welch, Ryan Beyer, & Jessica Vautard in Murder At the Queen’s Table. Photo: WhoDunnit

Murder at the Queen’s Table

Written by A.S. Waterman
Directed by Jill Nissen

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Everyone in the Queen’s Court is a suspect when a woman ¹ is killed. Jesters, princes, maids, and lords have an alibi…but who is the killer? Is Her Majesty the Queen safe? WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater’s Murder at the Queen’s Table serves up some royal fun at the Bristol on Main Street, and it’s up to the audience to solve the case.

WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater has a steady hold on a formula that has worked for a quarter of a century. The play is concise and brief yet entertaining with some moments worthy of a chuckle or two. With a victim stabbed through a curtain and a “damned spot” of blood that simply won’t come off the dining room tablecloth, this play leans heavily into a Shakespearean homage ². There’s even a character named Willa de Chaque-Espoir (if you sound it out, the Bard might come to mind). Rebecca Henderson latches on to this kooky character, who aspires to write about the royal goings-on – complete with a French accent and a wiley feather pen – and is always searching for the next great story. 

While the Shakespeare references come and go throughout the script, a few moments could have used extra thought. Niles Welch’s Fool is an entertaining jester, yet his clever wordplay was lost on Saturday night’s crowd. Other funny moments did not get the comical recognition they deserved: a flourish of horns that sound closer to kazoos upon the arrival of the Queen, an awkward moment between the Queen and her Court missing the beat to sit and stand at the same time, and a mistaken kiss between the Prince and the back of a head. 

While the play is equally a game and a performance, each actor interprets their archetype differently. Between the three scenes and courses of food, the six characters are allowed to move around the dining room and schmooze with the audience. This aspect of a WhoDunnit play always fascinates me; in a way, these interactions are the most important in the play. I like to see who stays in character, who can say “yes, and” with me, and who seems just as comfortable on stage as they mingle with the audience. A clever touch for this part of the game, Beth Olliges’ Queen stayed seated at her royal seat in the dining room while audience members had the chance to approach her. Olliges brings a posh and nasally Queen who always remains calm and in control. Jessica Vautard did well as a humble servant girl, Susanna, both on stage and in between scenes. Niles Welch and Ryan G. Beyer displayed great improvisation skills as they attempted to persuade and deflect any revelations about ³ the murderer. The best interactions during these between-the-scenes moments show off such skills while staying true to their character’s motives. 

Can you solve the murder? Want a tasty meal from one of Louisville’s best restaurants? WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater may have what you want: a production with regal flair with Murder at the Queen’s Table. Whether you want to be involved in the mystery or just watch a fun play, this one serves up just the right amount of flair worthy of a Royal Court. 

Featuring Beth Olliges, Ryan G Beyer, Jessica Vautard, Graham Troop, Rebecca Henderson, and Niles Welch. 

Alternate players: Chris Nissen, John Thwing, Kitty Timbers, Karen Wilson

Murder at the Queens Table

Saturdays May 25 through June 22, 2024

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

Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrights Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!