Murder in Green Meadows
By Douglas Post
Directed by Jamie Lentz
Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley
Entire contents copyright © 2013 by Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.
The Little Colonel Playhouse, known for their mostly family-friendly fare, has been taking some chances with their material of late. Case in point: their current production, Murder in Green Meadows.
To say the show is not what I expected is putting it mildly. The title suggests an Agatha Christie-style whodunit murder mystery. And while there is a murder or two to be had, there is no real mystery about what occurs in the quiet of the suburbs in this twisted little tale.
It starts off innocently enough. In the 1950s-era subdivision of Green Meadows, some new neighbors have moved in. Joan and Thomas Devereaux (Tracy Bond Bird and John Hess) seem nice enough, and they waste no time becoming close friends with their next-door neighbors, Jeff and Carolyn Symons (Jeff Mangum and Candy Thomas). The first few scenes do have a "sitcommy" feel to them. But we learn pretty quickly via a very dark monologue that this is no episode of Ozzie and Harriet.
Dark secrets are revealed, and the whole thing spirals down a very dark path indeed. To say much more would give away the plot twists; suffice it to say you’ll see some of the twists coming, but not all of them.
First-time director Jamie Lentz has gathered a very solid cast and keeps things moving at a nice pace. All four actors give great performances, but again, it's impossible to go into the details of their characters without giving too much away.
I question the wisdom of listing the scene changes on bright, happy advertisements on either side of the stage; they really belong listed in the program, and they set the completely wrong tone for the show. On the other hand, use of vintage radio commercials to cover the scene changes was quite clever.
On the technical side, Jane Benner’s set was quite authentic and Jeff Mangum’s lighting design set the mood. Unfortunately, on the performance I attended, there were several tragic lighting mistakes that killed the suspense and had the audience laughing at the errors. Hopefully this won’t be repeated.
On the whole, however, this was a fun play, well done and full of surprises. If the idea of an I Love Lucy episode reconceived by David Lynch appeals to you, this show should be right up your alley.
Featuring Tracy Bond Bird, John Hess, Jeff Mangum and Candy Thomas.
Murder in Green Meadows
April 18-27, 2013
Little Colonel Playhouse
302 Mt. Mercy Drive
Crestwood, KY 40014