'Afoot' off the beaten path.

AuthorKolas, Paul

Byline: Paul Kolas

WORCESTER -- It is most intriguing to surmise what Daria Chase, the lavishly snide theater critic/newspaper columnist in Ken Ludwig's "The Game's Afoot or Holmes for the Holidays,'' would have to say about Worcester County Light Opera Company's holiday production.

Portrayed here by Lisa Huntington, she might well preface her review with something like "Worcester County Light Opera Company's formidably brilliant production of 'The Roar of the Greasepaint the Smell of the Crowd' was going to be a hard act to follow under the best of circumstances,'' and then proceed to spill all sorts of wicked vitriol over director Mark Goodney's reasonably convivial effort. And such cruel assessment would no doubt have resulted in serious consequences, but since there is murder afoot and a mystery to be solved, spoiler alerts will be avoided in this review at all costs.

On its own modest terms, "The Game's Afoot'' is a quaintly amusing, handsomely mounted and stylish entertainment, a pleasant alternative to the usual holiday theater fare. And it boasts an interesting back story. Rob Lynds plays William Gillette, a playwright/actor who actually brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic Sherlock Holmes to the stage. It proved to be a smashing success that allowed Gillette to build an elaborate, contraption-filled mansion in East Haddam, Conn.

Goodney's exquisite set design, adorned with axes, pistols and sabers, also includes a secret wall/door that reveals a bar when a red rope is pulled. It's a good place to hide a body, while Gillette uses his intercom -- a new invention in 1936 -- as a delaying tactic, when Inspector Harriet Goring (Lisa Mielnicki) rings the front door in response to a call to the police.

In the show's introductory prologue, Gillette is shot in the left arm by a would-be assassin, while taking his bows at a performance of "Sherlock Holmes'' at the Palace Theater in New York City. While recuperating at his mansion, he invites his fellow actors to spend Christmas Eve with him -- his covert motive being to flush out whoever tried to kill him. Could it be Felix Geisel (Gary Swanson), his onstage Moriarty carrying his villainous role offstage? Or Geisel's wife, Madge (Nicole Hatlevig)? Don't rule...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT