Quote of the Day: Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend. Agatha Christie
I am a huge Agatha Christie fan. I played Mollie Ralston in her play The Mousetrap when I was in high school. Her book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd still haunts and inspires me. (I read that one for a college class.) When I saw that Theatre in the Round was doing Christie’s Go Back for Murder, a play I had not seen before, and that my friend and former Brainerd theater community member Erik Steen was in it, I jumped on the chance to go to the show and bring two of my college boys and a friend with me. It gave us some things to think about and talk about.
Carla Crale (Claire Avery) was five years old when her father was murdered and her mother was convicted of poisoning him. When Carla turns 21, she receives a letter, written by her now deceased mother, claiming her innocence. Carla hires lawyer Justin Fogg (Grant Hooyer) to help her uncover the truth behind her father’s demise. Together, they gather those who were at Carla’s parents’ country home the day of the murder.
The first act is a long set up of who’s who and their relationship with Carla’s parents. Each scene is an interview. It tends to be a bit wordy with not a lot of action, so pay attention. We first learn from them what they would have to gain, or lose, from Amyas Crale’s (Mark L. Mattison) death and Caroline Crale’s (also Claire Avery) conviction. In true Christie form, relationships are complex, not everyone is telling the whole truth, red herrings abound, and everyone seems to have motive.
Jeff Rogers (Jared Walz) plays Carla’s fiancé. When he goes in to confront her lawyer, and make threats that he shouldn’t pursue this ridiculous request, Justin Fogg decides that he should indeed help Carla find the truth in both her father’s murder and her fiancé.
Philip Blake (Erik Steen) was Amyas’ best friend. He seems the most angry at Caroline for taking away someone he cared for. Could he have set her up to take the fall?
Meridith Blake (Hazen B. Markoe) Philip’s brother and amateur chemist seemed smitten with Caroline. He’s more happy-go-lucky, but is it all a ruse?
Lady Melksam/Elsa (Gabriella Abbott) was Amyas’ latest infatuation. She was visiting the Crale’s country home because he wanted to paint her portrait. The two spend hours and hours together, him gazing at her, her making plans for them to be together.
Miss Williams (Annette Kurek) was the Crale’s governess. She cared for Caroline’s half-sister Angela Warren (Gillian Mueller). Angela was 14-years-old, and a bratty teenager, at the time of Amyas’ death. Could her anger have turned to vengence?
In the second act, we go back to the scene of the crime. Carla and Justin gather the suspects and have them recount their activities that day. The scenes move seamlessly between 1945 and 1961. More is revealed about the characters and their relationships until the truth is finally wrung out of them. I love the use of time in this piece. The floor is painted with a giant analogue clock face. Set pieces are moved in and out through the three openings in this circular staging. Set design by Michael Hoover. The mood music was fantastic, designed by Lynn Musgrave, had a sort of “Masterpiece Theater” mysterious feel. Black and white pictures, by Kari Elizabeth Godrey are in the Gallery, near the concessions, and they also get you thinking about what lies in the shadows.
Go Back for Murder is a classic whodunit. With Christie’s master hand at creating complicated characters, who all seem to have something to hide or gain, and putting them in settings that spark our own imaginations, we are treated once again to a mystery that is fun to watch and try to solve. I heard many people discussing the show, who they think did it and why, during intermission and as they were leaving the theater.
You can see Go Back for Murder, directed by Lynn Musgrave, at Theatre in the Round in Minneapolis, MN through December 16, 2018. Parking is fairly accessible, including the parking ramp for the Marriott hotel, and there are many great restaurants nearby. I brought the college kids to the Corner Bar (under 21 is okay until 9:30), and we all enjoyed our meal and relaxed atmosphere. Tickets are only $15 for college students who have a valid student ID.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Do you like watching or reading mysteries? Are you good at figuring out whodunit? (I’m not. I rarely guess it. That must be why I keep reading/watching them.)