William Gillette has played Sherlock Holmes for so long he’s half convinced he is the mythic hero. And, it turns out, he’s not that far off. When a series of murders—and an attempt on his own life—takes place, he ends up being just the man to solve the crime, with the help of his best friend Felix, who just so happens to play his sidekick Watson.
It’s all great fun in the delightfully silly farce, The Game’s Afoot, directed for The Actors Guild of Parkersburg by Dixie Showalter. Danny Bayer as William Gillette heads a stellar cast that includes George Litman as Gillette’s longsuffering pal Felix. The two play off of each other terrifically, especially while they are trying to hide a body before the police arrive. I won’t try to explain how they come to the conclusion that hiding the body is a good idea, partly because it’s all just too convoluted to put into words and also because that would just spoil the fun.
Along with Bayer and Litman, the rest of the relatively small cast is just great. Every character is huge and over the top, which is exactly how it should be, as this is a send up of murder mysteries, which are often unintentionally corny and overblown. Particularly fun is Susan Courtney as Gillette’s highly eccentric mother, Martha. As the show goes on, the audience begins to wonder just how much of Mrs. Gillette’s dottiness is real and how much is a front. Also outstanding are Karen Smith as Madge Geisel, Seth Fearnow as Simon Bright, Kalina Jones as Aggie Wheeler, Sarah Rose Drake as the hated critic Daria Chase, and Barbara Full as the dizzy police detective Inspector Goring.
Probably my favorite performance is given by Drake as Chase, especially after (spoiler alert) is murdered. Turns out, to steal from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, she’s only mostly dead. That is one of a seemingly never-ending stream of twists and turns throughout the second half of the show. Every time you think you know whodunnit, another crazy revelation happens. It’s all great fun and it’s all beautifully performed. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
As always, the technical aspects of the show are just as polished as are the performances. The set is simply beautiful and the sound and visual effects go off without a hitch. I can’t recommend this show highly enough.
You should get your tickets soon. The curtain goes up on Friday, March 1 at 8:00pm, with subsequent evening performances on March 2, 8, 9, 15, and 16. There is a matinee performance on Sunday, March 10. To get tickets, go to actors-guild.com or call the box office at 304-485-1300.