Reviews

Take a clever script by Ken Ludwig, mix well with a capable troupe of players, sprinkle with rich visuals of stage and costume, and you've got a recipe for a delightful evening.

Posted By Judy Moore

Post Mortem, presented by the Paris Performers' Theatre, is a mystery-thriller set in the 1920s at the country home of an actor famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes. The guests are all assembled for the weekend on the anniversary of a woman's death. Attempting to solve the mystery of her death stirs up more immediate dangers for the host and his friends.

With classic mystery twists, the characters peel back several layers of reality while they try to uncover the truth. Shots in the dark, a seance and dark secrets are among the exciting devices along the way.

There's a lot that can't be said about the story, because there are a number of surprises. Giving them away would ruin the fun.

Director Paul Curtis is known for his comedies, both on the stage and behind the scenes. Stepping into the direction of a murder mystery, he brings with him his sense of good timing, his physical awareness of the stage and characters and his use of "bits of business" that round out the characters and create a subtext.

The play is well-cast and benefits from local actors who are seasoned and dedicated to an excellent performance. Stephanie Christiaens as May and Josh Swartzentruber as Bobby open the play and set the pace with good timing and confidence. Josh's physical comedy and reactions provide a humourous balance to some of the darker parts of the play. His character is playing the fool at times to distract others from his real intent.

Stephanie runs through a full range of emotions as May, managing each with believability. Her physical nervousness alerts us from the very beginning that there is some sort of deception afoot. The host of the weekend is William Gillette played by Rick Toews. He is determined to put his knowledge of Sherlock Holmes to use to solve the year-long mystery, but puts himself in danger in the process.

Megan Davey, new to Paris Performers but not to acting, was a nice surprise as she portrayed Louise. Dramatically leading the seance, Megan kept the audience nicely entranced and on the edge of their seats.

Bonnie McCrae, a veteran of Paris Performers who can be relied upon for a solid performance, was a combination of flustered and warm as the aunt of Gillette.

Jill Prentice and Dan Anderson, as husband and wife, provided further richness to the cast of characters with more tension and alternate views of the situation.

Elegant costumes evoking the 1920s were created and collected by Tina and Jesse Lyons, a mother and daughter team. Tina has worked professionally in this area and used her talents for costumes that looked great together on stage and also reflected the internal nature of the characters.

Post Mortem was fun to watch and well presented. The audience was encouraged at the intermission to predict the real murderer and pop their predictions in a box for a draw. I don't know how many got it right, but there was certainly some scratching of heads and discussion as the house lights went up for intermission.

Nothing enlivens a cold night in February like a murder mystery.

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