Review by Terry Gaisin
The teaser states: – “Farcical Whodunit”; soooo … we know the butler did it. But Mat Kelly’s MURDER BY THE BOOK has no butler! Waterdown’s Village Theatre is staging this cutesy bit of fluff until Nov. 30th and it’s a delightful escape from the usual pap on T.V. Director Sherry Wells and her six-member cast romp through the clues; stereotypes and red herrings. The character interpretations may be a little heavy-handed and the comedic repostes telegraphed; hey earn guffaws anyhoo.
Biggest laughs come at the ‘cracks’ about embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford!
The plot deals with a quartet of female mystery writers who meet monthly at the home of their only published novelist. Jealousy and suspicion abound, even from the requisite immigrant housekeeper. Surprise, the hostess is found dead behind a locked door with the murder weapon located elsewhere. Naturally, all the suspects want to offer solutions and also turn the event into a scenario of their own.
The first suspect is an oversized busybody burdened with both names of the author of ‘The Scarlet Letter’. Kyla McCall plays her Nathaniel to the hilt, skulking about and eavesdropping on everything and everyone, all the while offering up ridiculous solutions. She’s captivating. Her two counterparts are played by Sandy Milne as a bookish intellectual while Emanuela Dussin-Hall is the loquacious motor-mouth. Both ladies give full measure to their portrayals and also almost over-emphasize the director’s categorizations. The elaborate set allows for the requisite entries and exiting that is endemic to the category. All three use these directives as opportunities for severe body language to underscore their emotions. The émigré maid is wonderfully portrayed by Inese Hill with the suitable hairstyle, accent and her own imported bigotry.
The ‘Benson & Stabler’ [Law & Order SVU] duo owns the show. Their acting, chemistry, timing and diverse thespian bents are only outdone by their unsubtle role nomenclatures. Jane is Ilene Elkaim – the brighter of the two; Andy Dumas’ Watson is the comic relief. All three lady suspects can’t keep their eyes off his butt; or their hands off his bod! This twosome gave us a modifying term for schtupping… “Sporking” now enters this writer’s vernacular.
The costumes, lighting and sound effects are major contributors to making Murder by the Book possess some semblance to reality. Obviously, a substantial measure of effort has gone into staging this production. Waterdown’s Theatre is located on Dundas just west of Mill Street. Curtain time is 8pm.