Niles Welch, Ben Rogers, Penny Brill, Shelly Marquart Reid, Erica Goldsmith & Ron Brumleve
in Murder On The Alien Express. Photo-WhoDunnit.
Murder On The Alien Express
By A.S. Waterman
Directed by Beth Olliges
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved
WhoDunnit ends the season with a nutty mash-up of murder mystery and science fiction that is almost certainly the most referential piece in their history. Of course, writing within any genre almost demands some awareness of the history and formula expected, but writer A.S. Waterman dives into the deep end of the pool with her references to iconic sci-fi stories, influenced by everything from Buck Rogers to Moebius.
Its Earth Night on the ISS Auggie, an intergalactic cruise ship that, on this night, will host a performance by one of the hottest singing stars, Elft Zayn. Zayn’s lyrics are usually unintelligible except to his fellow Emaloids (or is it Emalons?), but the use of a universal translator will allow most species to understand his latest hit song for the first time. Attendees include his manager, Grush Tobias (Niles Welch), old flame Millenia Sunn (Penny Brill), talk show host Oona Bladerman (Shelly Marquart Reid), and star athlete Hright (Ron Brumleve). There is also Deej (Ben Rogers) an android DJ spinning tunes from the 3rd planet from the sun: “ Here’s a historical piece about an invasion of monsters on Earth in the 1970’s,” is his pithy introduction to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.”
When Zayn fails to arrive at show time, the Auggie’s Security Chief, Crinoline Mews (Erica Goldsmith) discovers that he has apparently been murdered. Crinoline is not exactly a detective, but her species bears a resemblance to a feline, so she proceeds to sniff out the truth of the matter. It was nice to see Ms. Goldsmith, a veteran of 28 WhoDunnit productions, play the character who is tasked with solving the crime, for what I believe is her first time. She sported the best alien look as well: statuesque in form fitting pink and white topped with full and flowing black and purple head of hair. A simple but ingenious makeup effect and humorous cat-like affectations complete the character.
Second best in the hair and costume design departments would be Ben Roger’s Deej: silver and black jumpsuit, dark purple skin, with earphones for ears and a visor that gives him x-ray vision. The language in the script works hard to consistently establish a different universe. The crime scene is “electro-cordoned off,” for example.
It’s a sound enough mystery plot, but I could not help but wish that the author had found some use for a subtext or metaphorical underpinning for the material. It is a crucial value of good science fiction that it can engender discussion of difficult or controversial themes in the guise of fantastical entertainment. With Alien Express, we can be satisfied with the colorful trappings of surface designs and whimsical humor, and the very unusual details of mystery narrative set in outer space.
This is the final run for WhoDunnit at the Hilton Garden Inn. For their 2015-16 season, which begins in November with The Nutcracker-Sweet Murders, they will relocate to the Downtown Bristol Bar & Grill on Main Street.
Murder On The Alien Express
May 9 – June 13, 2015
Seating at 6:30 / Show starts at 7:00
Dinner choices: Baked salmon, beef stroganoff,
or portobello parmesan
WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre
At The Hilton Garden Inn
2735 Crittenden Drive
Louisville, KY 40209
[box_light]Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art 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]