Despite a slower than expected start to Drury Lane Theatre’s ” The Game’s Afoot”, opening night audience members found themselves laughing hysterically. This is a Ken Ludwig play (remember,”Lend Me A Tenor”) and while the intro takes a little longer than normal, once the comedic writing takes hold, the belly laughs just keep rolling. Directed by William Osetek, who understands how important timing is in a farce, on a cleverly designed set by Kevin Depinet, this 1936 murder mystery has all the ingredients of a Sherlock Holmes thriller.
The story takes place, at the start, in a New York Theater as we witness a play within a play version of “Sherlock Holmes”. It is very “camp” and as the actors take their bows, an audience member fires a gun hitting the lead actor, William Gillette (an amazing performance by Derek Hasenstab). But is the bullet meant for him? Does he die?
Of course not! This is the scene setter for where the action truly begins in the second scene as we see the curtain open on Gillette’s Connecticut mansion. It is December and he has invited the cast members (his other family) to join his mother (the always comedic Alene Robertson, who can make one line a special memory for audiences) for the holiday. One of the guests is stabbed during these festivities and everyone suspects each other of the crime. We do get a confession, but as it turns out, Gillette, having played Holmes for so many years, is convinced that he can solve the crime. Even when the police arrive (played to perfection by Wendy Robie) he doesn’t give in.
Farce relies on expert timing and knowing how this works, from my year at Shady Lane Playhouse, I am sure that each performance will improve the pace that these actors are working with. We must understand that they have had little time to rehearse and the show will be even better during the run as they become even stronger in the timing that Osetek has played out for them. This is a divine cast, from top to bottom. Rod Thomas is exceptional as Felix and Kathy Logelin as his wife is divine. Aggie, the woman all the men want, is stunningly played by Tempe Thomas, and her lover/husband is played by Rob Riddle. There is one more character, Daria Chase, who is not a member of their acting troupe, but rather a theater critic (which on opening night brought extra laughter to the audience filled with reviewers and reporters) who has had a relationship with each and every other character in the show exceptfor Inspector Goring (Robie). Ms. Chase is played by the very sexy and extremely agile/flexible, Angela Ingersoll!
Not wanting to spoil the “whodunit” part of this sterling, hysterical comedy, I will only tell you that what you think should be the truth, is often, not so! There is a lot of little innuendos and story telling about each of our actors and their history with one another. As I said before, the second act is one that will have you holding your sides (as they will be splitting). So, although the first act is slow (I am sure the timing will improve with these brilliant cast members), act two is worth the trip to Drury Lane on the sheer energy this cast exudes.
The technical parts of the show are the icing on the cake as the lighting (Greg Hoffman), costumes (Maggie Hofman) and sound (Ray Nardelli) along with the props (Nick Heggestad) and fight choreography (not so much fight as farce) by Amber Wuttke bring a complete package to the Drury lane stage through October 19th with performances as follows:
Thursdays at 1:30 and 8 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.
Tickets range from $40-$50 and are available at the box office, by phone at 630-530-0111, at Ticketmaster 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.drurylane.com.
Lunch and dinner packages are also available with special for students and seniors.
Plenty of free parking at Drury Lane Theatre of Oak Brook, just north of the Oak Brook Shopping Center.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Game’s Afoot”