“The Game’s Afoot,” Meadow Brook Theatre’s season opener, is a fun comedy-cum-murder-mystery that becomes doubly delightful with its Sherlockian layering of fact and fiction.
Fiction – William Gillette was once shot, mysteriously, while taking a curtain call after performing as Sherlock Homes in December of 1936.
Fact – William Gillette built a large castle as his home in Connecticut, where he pursued the inventions and innovative devices that frequently appeared in his theatrical productions.
Fiction – William Gillette invited cast members from the show at which he was shot to his castle home for Christmas, so that he could solve, Holmes-style, the attempted murder.
Fact – Renowned playwright Ken Ludwig included all of these items in a play featuring William Gillette that is now playing at Rochester’s Meadow Brook Theatre to much hilarity, laughter and applause.
“Ken Ludwig writes such entertaining plays,” said Travis W. Walter, MBT artistic director. “MBT audiences have loved them in the past. I know they’ll be surprised at the twists and humor ‘The Game’s Afoot’ offers. I’m sure they’ll love it as much as we do.”
The cast of “The Game’s Afoot” is lead by Ron Williams (from last season’s “White’s Lies”) who plays Gillette with all the debonair theatricality we suspect would prove authentic. Ruth Crawford (“70, Girls, 70” and “Mary Stuart”) is delightful as his mother, Martha Gillette, and is teamed again with Julia Glander, who previously played Mary Stuart to Crawford’s Queen Elizabeth. In this play, Glander gets plenty of laughs as Inspector Goring, as a wannabe actress with a natural talent for the old declamatory line of acting. Dramatic actor Andrew Huff (as Felix Geisel) proves he has a knack for period comedy and is delightful pared with MaryJo Cuppone as his wife, Madge. Cheryl Turski enjoys playing the evil theater critic Daria Chase, a virtual opposite character from her leading role in MBT’s “The Constant Wife.” And it was a real treat to see Jordan Whalen (Simon Bright) and Vanessa Sawson (Agatha Wheeler) reunited on stage, as the two were frequently appeared together as part of the stellar Hilberry Theatre company that staged “The Misanthrope,” “Cider House Rules,” and “Richard III.”
Travis W. Walter directs “The Game’s Afoot” with all the joy of someone who relishes a good comedy and isn't afraid of physical humor. Fight choreography is by Jordan Whalen. Terry W. Carpenter is the stage manager with sumptuous scenic design (yes, it’s a castle) by Kristen Gribbin and gorgeous ‘30s-era costumes by Liz Goodall. Lighting design is by Reid G. Johnson and sound by Mike Duncan.
“The Game’s Afoot” plays at Meadow Brook Theatre through October 27 with shows on Wednesdays through Sundays. A variety of evening and matinee performances are offered, so check the theatre’s website for the full calendar of performances. Tickets range from $25 to $40 and are available by calling the Meadow Brook Theatre box office at 248-377-3300 or going online. Student discounts are available at the box office. Groups of eight or more should call 248-370-3316 for group pricing.
Meadow Brook Theatre is located on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester.