One of the standards of comedic theater is the mystery farce, and "Ramshackle Inn" by George Batson at Magic City's Arvel Graving Theater this weekend is a classic of the genre.
Director Alphonse Koenigsman has reprised the staging of this production from his final year at Central Campus nearly a decade ago. At that time he had to double-cast roles and switch some roles from male to female, but this production has a full cast in the proper genders.
It takes place in a bed-and-breakfast in New England in 1932, during Prohibition. The rundown place has been sold to Katie Kendrick as Belinda Pryde, a retired librarian, who hopes running the place will be a good way to meet interesting people.
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - 'Ramshackle Inn' cast members, from left, include Khristy Anderson as Mary Temple, Matthew Jermiason as Bill Phillips, Breanna Benson as Mame Phillips (stairs), Connor Bruce as Patton, Katie Kendrick as Belinda Pryde (box), Casey Feldner as Dr. Steven Russell, and kneeling, from left, Billy Haase as Constable Small, and Jacob Thrailkill as Gilhooley.
Her male friend, Commodore Towser, who is helping with running the place, is played by Alan Jermiason.
Within the first five minutes of the show we are introduced to the bootlegger, Patton, played by Connor Bruce, and his customer Arbuthnot, played by Mason Eisenzimmer, is murdered and put into a safe.
This is not the last we see of Arbuthnot, as his body is moved from place to place to avoid being revealed, particularly to Constable Small, played by Billy Haase.
"Ramshackle Inn" has tickets at $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for students under 18. Show times are today through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. No reservations are required.
Two more customers of the bad guy, played by Alexandra Coffelt and Breanna Benson arrive before three mysterious strangers do, who are Dr. and Gail Russell (Casey Feldner and Emily Veazey) with Alice Fisher (Priscilla Allen), who have a complicated relationship among themselves. The banker Mr. Temple, in the person of Chris Pitner, comes on the scene, and we find he has helped frame Bill Phillips (Matthew Jermiason) for embezzlement.
Bill is the son of the previous owner of the Inn, Mame Phillips, played by Benson, and is in love with Temple's niece Mary (Khristy Anderson), which naturally Temple doesn't approve of. There is a sudden blackout and when the lights come up, Temple is found murdered.
And that's just the first act.
There are lots of twists and turns, blackouts, screams and surprises.
"There are lots of doors and moving of bodies," Koenigsman said. "There are 10 doors besides the hiding places on stage."