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Friday, February 8, 2013

Strong Ensemble and Yankee Pot Roast Complement One Another in WhoDunnit’s Newest Reflections

Photo: WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre?
Reflections: The Masque of Death
By A. S. Waterman, Directed by Joe Monroe
Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley

Entire contents are copyright © 2013, Craig Nolan Highley.  All rights reserved.

Serial killers, courtroom histrionics, and Yankee pot roast. Now there’s a combination you don’t see often! But there is plenty of each in Whodunnit’s latest original offering, now playing at the Hyatt.

As the audience, we get to be the jury for the second in a trilogy of cases prosecuted by the bumbling but true-hearted Morgan Farewell (Jane Mattingly) and defended by sarcastic but sincere Dante Andino (Brian Kennedy), an odd but effective mystery-solving team created by playwright and Whodunnit alum A. S. Waterman.

We discover early on that the fellow Andino has been defending and Farewell has been prosecuting is, quite possibly, the wrong person; it turns out that thanks to identity theft, the defendant may not be who he claims to be. That’s just the first twist in a clever mystery involving a serial killer who has been targeting successful, affluent women.

The story plays out over a couple of days and mostly in the courtroom of no-nonsense judge Lincoln Dougherty (Robert Thompson) as we are introduced to a colorful array of witnesses and suspects: Detective Coletta Scott (Erica Goldsmith), a tomboyish, literature-quoting gumshoe with an almost obsessive interest in the case; Victor Norman (John Lina), husband of one of the victims who seems strangely unmoved by his wife’s passing; Ellen Owen (Shelly Marquardt Reid), the killer’s physically and mentally scarred sole survivor; and Kate Wheeler (Beth Olliges), who seems to be enjoying the attention a bit too much as the sister of the final victim.

As a mystery, the story definitely held my interest even if the killer’s identity seemed a bit more obvious than usual; but clever dialogue and a genuinely creepy reveal at the end really work to sell the piece. Great performances are had by all, in one of the best ensembles ever to grace a WhoDunnit production.  Mattingly and Kennedy are a particular joy to watch, as they have a chemistry reminiscent of the classic Tracy/Hepburn pairings, and Goldsmith is a riot in a role that allows her to break from the usual cleavage-heaving ingĂ©nues that have become her forte.

Director Joe Monroe has managed to keep the action moving and visually interesting despite the small space afforded in a meeting room at the Hyatt, and other technical aspects are also spot-on. Really nice work here all around.

As far as the meal choices, both my companion and I had the Yankee pot roast, and it was wonderful. The gravy was so good I even ate the broccoli! My mother would be so proud.

Add to that a cash bar and free parking in the Fifth Street Garage, and this is the perfect date night. Check it out; it really does make for a fun evening!

Starring Erica Goldsmith, Brian Kennedy, John Lina, Jane Mattingly, Beth Olliges, Shelly Marquardt Reid, and Robert Thompson.

Reflections: The Masque of Death
Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23, Mar. 2, 9, and 16 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $45.50. Book in advance (highly recommended as these shows do sell out).

 WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre
At The Hyatt Downtown
320 West Jefferson Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Tickets: 502-426-7100

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