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Drop-dead-funny who-dunnit The Game’s Afoot comes to Studio Theatre.The Games Afoot comedy at Studio Theatre Perth

By C. Lee Bates

February 12 & 14, 2016  at 8:00 pm
February 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Perth’s Studio Theatre has chosen another winner for its next play, opening February 4. The Game’s Afoot garnered the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Play from The Mystery Writers of America. It’s one of playwright Ken Ludwig’s most recent scripts, and is distinguished by Ludwig’s witty, fast-paced dialogue and fascinating, believable characters.

I sat down with Director Lucas Tennant to get his thoughts on casting a play in which every character is significant and distinct. With a small eight-person cast, everyone has multiple scenes in which to shine.

The central character of The Game’s Afoot is William Gillette, a Broadway actor highly regarded for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. It is December, 1936, and Gillette has invited his fellow cast-members to join him and his indomitable mother at his Connecticut castle for a Christmas Eve weekend celebration, as he recovers from a mysterious attempt on his life. As with any good “whodunit,” the plot takes numerous twists and turns after one of the guests is stabbed to death. Gillette, himself, assumes his Holmes persona to try and solve the crime before another guest falls victim to the mystery killer.

Lucas Tennant, like many directors, had his “dream cast” in mind, and was fortunate to land just the actor he wanted for the role of Gillette. Garry Welsh is well-known to Perth audiences for his wonderful performances in such diverse shows as Rabbit Hole and The Full Monty.

“Garry and his character, Holmes/William Gillette, both have a dry sense of humour,” says Tennant. “They can throw out a joke and carry on perfectly seriously. Garry practically wears comedy as clothing.”

Alison Kirkpatrick, another well know Studio Theatre actress, teams up with Nelson McCulloch to portray a newly-married couple who are appearing in “Sherlock Holmes” with Gillette. Tennant describes the two as “the embodiment of a newlywed couple, still very distinct from one another, but in that recognizable ‘honeymoon’ stage of their relationship.”

The older actor couple, deftly played by veteran Krista Duff and newcomer Jerry Logan, “have a physical resemblance that shows their years as a couple,” according to Tennant, “including their indifferent behaviour around, for example, issues of jealousy.”

The luminous Mary Ann Majaury takes on the role of the beautiful but evil theatre critic Daria Chase. Tennant notes that Mary Ann and Daria are polar-opposites, but that “Mary Ann has the acting chops to portray the shady critic, who has power but no scruples.” Annette Hutton plays Inspector Goring, a Colombo-type detective, and a female – unexpected in the 30’s but not unusual in a Ludwig play. Lucas says that Annette “had already nailed the complexity of the character in her audition.”

And Studio Theatre audiences will be familiar with Barb Guthrie, who plays Martha, Gillette’s mother. “She is exactly right for the part,” says Tennant, who has worked with Barb in previous productions where he was the actor and she was the director.

Lucas Tennant is thrilled with his cast, and delighted to be directing a play he describes as a comedy, full of physical gags, one-liners, skits within a play, and vaudeville elements that he intends to shamelessly play up, creating “a theatre world sit-com.”

Game's Afoot performance photo
The cast of A Game’s Afoot performs at the Studio Theatre in Perth.

Tickets are $22 cash at The Book Nook, 60 Gore Street E., and online or by phone at Shadowfax, 67 Foster St. (613-267-6817, and Tickets Please, (613-485-6434, where a convenience fee applies.

Tickets are $24 at the door, and $10 for students with ID.

Attend opening night and save $5!