"Something's Afoot," at Seattle's Taproot Theatre, ably spoofs the Agatha Christie/country-home murder mystery genre.
THEATER REVIEW |
“Blame it all on Agatha Christie/And Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,” goes a rousing tune from the 1970s musical spoof, “Something’s Afoot.”
Well, you can’t hold those seminal mystery writers responsible for every knock-off of their literary genre.
And “Something’s Afoot” could be convicted of grand larceny, for its gleeful thievery from two of Christie’s best-known works — the novel “And Then There Were None,” and its stage version, “Ten Little Indians.”
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Dotted with tongue-in-cheek nods to the Christie oeuvre, and erected on the prototypical gambit of guests dropping like flies during a weekend party at a remote country house, this chamber tuner is the sort of airy trifle that can sag without adept handling.
Fortunately, Taproot director Scott Nolte approaches the material with a light, assured hand — and with actors who hit just the right comic and musical notes for a dose of pleasing summer-evening escapism.
The show’s stock British characters appear to have stepped out of a game of Clue. They are embodied with comic flourish, especially the very funny Dale Bowers as a huffing old stick of a retired military man, Pat Sibley as a middle-aged lady with a past, and Deanna Sarkar and Tim Tully as a pair of Cockney servants.
Also spot on are the inevitable ingénues: fluttery, overly enthused Hope (Natalie Anne Moe, channeling Kristen Wiig) and her twitty paramour Geoffrey (Ian Lindsay). Jenny Cross as the spinsterly amateur detective on hand, Miss Tweed, fits cheerily into Miss Marple’s sensible shoes.
As those assembled in Lord Rancour’s manse are offed one by one in picturesque ways, Miss Tweed uses her little gray cells to detect the in-house killer. And the show actually keeps you guessing whodunit, right up to the near end.
Credited to the show’s writers James McDonald, David Vos and Robert Gerlach, with extra music by Ed Linderman, the score here is slight but diverting as it parodies peppy ditties, florid love songs and other 1930s pop-musical styles.
The leading soprano parts are most attractively sung by Moe, a trained soprano.
Given this show, and its recent premiere of “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol,” Taproot is becoming quite expert at this sort of thing.
Still, how they pull off on their compact stage this 10-actor piece, with a live combo led by Edd Key and many sight gags, is a bit of a mystery.
Let’s just say that the clever designers, Sarah Burch Gordon (costumes) and Mark Lund (sets and sound), are prime suspects.
Misha Berson: email@example.com