by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The Orange Park Community Theatre (OPCT) and The Tom Nehl Fund of The Community Foundation presented the second show of OPTC’s 23rd season. You don’t have to be a super sleuth to figure out that this is a comedy; the title pretty much gives that away.
This show by playwright Pat Cook will run through November 17th, at the OPTC playhouse on Moody Road in Orange Park. Visit www.opct.org or call 276-2599 for reservations.
“Three Murders” opens with a bang, actually three of them, gunshots, and afterward three bodies lie on the floor of the living room of the Peaceful Pines Sanitarium.
Enter Harry Monday (Carter Cheatum), a wisecracking private eye, dressed like the gum shoes we used to see in those B-movies of the 50s and 60s. Mr. Cheatum is on the stage almost the entire play in this very demanding role..
The police have been to the scene and gone and Harry has been hired by an unknown source to find the killer. Almost all the potential suspects he has gathered in the living room have an interest in the will and are counting on an inheritance, and it will be up to Harry and the audience to figure out who done it.
Tim Deborde appears early as a former ship’s captain, then throughout as Humphrey Hopkins, who is half Indian and wears a headband and feather. (Which half of him is Indian is hard to tell!!). Inmate Stephen Lowe appears first as a ventriloquist, then in a couple of other roles after his demise. Tom Deborde is mainly Larramore the family professional actor, who constantly drinks from a small flask that seems to have an unending supply of booze. Shelley Hayes is Beatrice Smith, an employee of the sanitarium, as the doctor’s assistant and cook. She serves treats to the guests like prune juice and cereal as snacks.
Dr. Morrissey is portrayed by Rick Sheffler, a rather unusual physician who does not seem disturbed by the disturbance of three dead bodies in his establishment, and who later displays some very disturbing behavior in Act II. Emily Piatt is Tara Dillaise,the snappily dressed niece of the sanitarium’s owner. Megan Kathleen Benham as Lilly Drakeman is the family lawyer who has the all important will in her briefcase. Sally DeBorde is Mary Alice Tobias, the best dressed family member who is concerned with the contents of the will and whether the killer intends to do away with all the beneficiaries.
Director Rhodie Jackson has selected a cast to exploit the offbeat humor in the script to the fullest. She invited the audience to go out into the lobby and observe a duplicate of the desk on stage for clues that will enable them to guess the mad man or women who is doing these dirty deeds. On the desk were several items pointing to the killer and Harry the PI explains them in Act II. This who done it has a surprising ending that is funny as well as very dramatic, but we won’t spoil it for you.
No one is credited for the set design, which is a very modest living room in a private sanitarium, with walls painted an industrial green and shabby furniture covered with patterned throws. A prominent portrait by Marcus Williams depicting one of the founders livens up things. This production was produced by Barbara Wells, with Kila Bryant as stage manager.
This play is different from other mystery murders we have seen as the characters are very articulate and frequently recite famous literary quotes, including some from The Bible, Shakespeare, and John Dryden. You will hear the phrase “Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief, Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief.” And the pace is frenzied, with plot twist after plot twist, so be prepared to be entertained on multiple levels with this funny and most unpredictable play.
THREE MURDERS & IT'S ONLY MONDAY
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM