By Edith McCauley
A great fan of the mystery genre, my reading includes Agatha Christie and her many characters, and my film choices often focus on Poirot, Miss Marple and Inspector Lewis. Playwright Frederick Knott includes some plot twists not before encountered.
The current production of Write Me a Murder welcomes newcomers to Pec Playhouse, and all have done an exemplary job.
Stephanie Whitmire directs for the first time. Her choice of cast is perfect, and the staging couldn’t be better.
Linda Johnson, set director, and Rosemary Million, prop mistress, both long-time members of the company, have created a set unmatched by most professional theaters. The English estate of the Rodingham family for 500 years is a display of every possible treasure, and from the French doors to the invisible staircase, we see the extraordinary set.
Scott Dibler (Clive Rodingham) has inherited the estate from his father, and Andrew Mahan, who plays his brother David, arrives from his houseboat on the Thames to look at their future.
Diane Grosvenor-Johnson is Dr. Elizabeth Woolley, who announces that their father has died, and the plot becomes more complicated.
Douglas Rappa is Charles Sturrock, a former delivery boy in the village who has had great financial success and returns with his wife, Julie, played by Kirsten Didier, to offer to purchase the estate.
Both David and Julie are writers, and though she has not been published, she is determined to write a mystery. David offers his help, and so the plot is literally created on stage.
Most mysteries begin with the murder, but what we have here is a complete reversal. Mahan is wonderful as the “unsuccessful brother.” Every aspect of his performance is great, from his stage presence to his English accent.
Rappa, as the conniving real estate investor, is the consistent villain. We hope for the worst.
Didier, the wannabe writer, plays the wife of a domineering husband beautifully. Her ’50s retro dresses are exquisite, and on her slim figure, she becomes the model of the decade.
To solve the mystery, you must see the production. Playing next weekend Friday (Feb. 22) and Saturday (Feb. 23) at 8 p.m. and on Sunday (Feb. 24) at 2 p.m., you can get tickets by calling (815) 239-1210 or online at www.pecplayhouse.org.
From the Feb. 20-26, 2013, issue