Nancy Sasso Janis
Phoenix Stage Company has produced many a fine comedy and just as many marvelous mysteries. With their latest show, ‘Three Murders and It’s Only Monday,’ the PSC has combined both with a piece written by Pat Cook. Ed Bassett directed nine talented local actors who cover 14 roles in a clever play full of plot twists peppered with lots of laughs.
Phoenix Stage veteran Tim Phillips leads the cast wonderfully as a private eye named Harry Monday investigating three murders at the Peaceful Pines Sanitarium. “It was the kind of night when you caught yourself holding your breath for no reason at all,” he says to the audience. A slew of mourners of various occupations show up as Monday tries to figure out who killed an old sea captain, a ventriloquist and a tramp. The lawyer Lilly Dramkean holds the wills of two of the deceased and a sultry soon-to-be heiress named Tara has the gumshoe befuddled.
Mr. Bassett directed this with tongue firmly in his cheek and that makes it all the more enjoyable. Rob Richnavsky served as fight director of some relatively mild altercations. The costumes by the director suit each character perfectly and those that must play more than one use them to change completely.
The script is full of puns and clever connections and patrons are invited to the stage during intermission to look for clues to the identity of the murderer, although it didn’t help me at all. The solution was not all that simple and the ending unexpected, at least to me.
Michael Calabrese (‘Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol’) plays the quickly deceased Capt. Mandrake, actor Larramore Mandrake and boxer Thunder O’Brien and does well with all three. Aric Martin has lots more lines in his second PSC show as the aforementioned ventriloquist Danny O’Donnell, Manny and Hans the gardener. Tony Benedetti appears in his fifth PSC production as the tramp and an Indian named Humphrey Hopkins
Teresa Moran is quite funny as the sanitarium nurse and Leland M. Schick returns to the PSC as the mysterious Dr. Morrissey. My onstage sister from ‘The Last Supper: A Musical Enactment’ Marsha Gaylord took time away from planning her wedding to play the far from dumb blonde bombshell Tara Dillaise. Heide Wallace was convincing as the lawyer and neighbor Rhea Tetley. Beth Steinberg (‘The Cemetery Club’) was lovely as a socialite relative.
‘Three Murders’ continues at the Clockwork Repertory Theatre in Oakville through March 12, 2016 Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm.