Nov 14

Vertigo Theatre’s The Game’s Afoot is brilliant comedic murder mystery

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments


Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot is a clever, funny murder mystery. Actually. Combine Ludwig’s script with the directional talent of Mark Bellamy and Vertigo Theatre has a real hit on its hands.

The play centers on William Gillette (Blair Williams) the actor who originated the role of Sherlock Holmes. The narrative opens to a murder mystery, starring Gillette as Holmes, running after the bad guys amongst furniture draped in sheets. This opening scene sets the tone of the entire play as the curtain comes down and Gillette starts discussing his role as Holmes, the scene is emphasized by a laugh track and the sound of clapping. It is quite comedic, until someone pulls out a gun.

Cut to a couple weeks later on Christmas Eve, Gilette is hosting his friends at his luxurious mansion. His mother Martha Gillette (Maureen Thomas) is greeting the guest at the door. Fellow actor Simon (Tyrell Crews) shows up first with his soon to be revealed wife Aggie (Anna Cummer) and just behind them is Gillette’s best friend Felix (Kevin Rothery) and his wife Madge (Natascha Girgis). Everyone is having a really good time, chatting and dancing when Gillette announces that Daria Chase (Jan Alexandra Smith) the dreaded theatre critic is showing up. And then there is a murder in the house. Inspector Goring (Karen Johnson Diamond) comes to the house to investigate.

The play has so many gems and winks to the audience and also has incredibly clever writing. There are several passages of Shakespeare included in the production as well as several references to mystery theatre that has taken place on Vertigo’s stage. The really funny aspects are the more nuanced references, such as Crews being called an extra in Pride and Prejudice (he played Mr. Darcy on Theatre Calgary’s stage) and probably the funniest of all, the homage to former Calgary theatre critic Jessica Goldman as Daria Chase. Smith’s hair is the giveaway.

The Game’s Afoot is funny and the actors carry out their comedy brilliantly. Rothery is laugh out loud funny when he is trying to get away from Daria as well as chasing after his own wife Madge, or hiding a body behind a couch. Girgis has her usual strong comedic timing and Crews is perfect as the charming and dense Simon.

Scott Reid’s set and lighting design is well done, with just enough of the right elements to strike the balance between comedy and drama, making sure that the lighting and rain in the background didn’t come off as trite.

Vertigo Theatre’s production of The Game’s Afoot is funny and lots of fun, while being smart. It also features strong actors who can handle the comedy brilliantly.

Vertigo Theatre’s The Game’s Afoot runs until December 7th. More information is available online.

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