John Collins, Erica Gioldsmith, Makayla Staudenheimer & John Lina in The Twelve Murders of Christmas.
The Twelve Murders Of Christmas
By A.S. Waterman
Directed by Erica Goldsmith and Beth Olliges
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
I welcome any holiday entertainment that injects a shot of vinegar to cut the sugar of traditional Christmas fare. The best ones, A Christmas Carol, Its A Wonderful Life, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, display an understanding on the part of the authors that darkness just highlights the themes of redemption and forgiveness.
The Twelve Murders of Christmas may not quite belong in that august company, but a festive year-end offering that throws a little murder into the mix certainly sets itself apart from Rudolph, Frosty and the rest.
Six people have been invited to a mysterious holiday party in mansion, each picked up in their own stretch limo and instructed to identify themselves by absurd holiday non de plumes: Wayne Manager, Dusty Fideles, Felice Navidad, etc. Upon arrival, a snarky butler (a most excellent Ryan P. Lash) informs them not only that there is about to be a murder but the identity of the victim as well. When one of the six (Rebekah Dow as Beth Littletown) reveals that she had once killed someone, the mystery deepens.
Before you complain about spoilers, this revelation occurs fairly quickly. In fact, it seems illogical that such confessions among strangers should occur so soon, but ipso facto, the running time, divided as it is by the delivery of dinner courses, is relatively brief and the plot must not dally. As usual, it is the frustration of any WhoDunnit review that you really cannot discuss plot. This script dates from the early days of WhoDunnit history, and is a little more-puzzle-like in its construction than A.S. Waterman’s more recent, often more introspective stories. It is rather funny, and even includes a reference to Abbott & Costello.
Besides the dry delivery of the aforementioned Mr. Lash, the ensemble functions effectively, with a nicely ding-batty comic turn from Beth Olliges and smooth and snooty work from Craig Nolan Highley. Rachel Rogers makes a creditable WhoDunnit debut, while veterans Niles Welch, Rebekah Dow and Tom Staudenheimer have fun hamming it up a bit with parodies of mystery clichés.
In their directorial debut, Erica Goldsmith and Beth Olliges show that they have learned their lessons well from several years experience appearing in WhoDunnit shows. Although performances could have used a more disciplined hand, they generally keep a steady pace and allow character detail to flourish.
Twelve Murders won’t erase candy canes, eggnog, or chestnuts roasting on an open fire from your holiday expectations, but it is a reasonably diverting alternative served up with roasted turkey and dressing (one of three dinner options).
As with many WhoDunnit productions, this show is double cast and may feature performers other than those mentioned here.
The Twelve Murders Of Christmas
November 28 – December 20, 2014 and January 3, 2015 @ 7:00pm, doors open at 6:30pm
Tickets $45.50 (includes meal, show, tax, and gratuity). Group discounts available. Reservations are necessary: call (502) 426-7100
Meal choices: roast turkey, baked salmon or portabello risotto
WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre
Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Airport
2735 Crittenden Drive
Louisville, KY 40209
[box_light]Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at the Louisville Visual Art Association during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, 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.[/box_light]