Quote of the Day: When life throws you lemons, make theater in another way. Me

There are pluses and minuses to our current situation in regards to Covid, lock downs, and restrictions. On the plus side, I’m saving money on gas, not really going anywhere or doing anything. Minus: not really going anywhere or doing anything. Another plus, though, is that theaters are getting creative and embracing technology to give us an experience of (almost) live theater. We’re not there in person, but we can tune in to watch a streaming show. In the case of Riddle, Puzzle, Plot, you even have a chance to interact with the characters at the end of the performance. I watched the On Demand version, so missed out on question asking, but I didn’t mind. The ones that others provided gave me some insight into the minds and motives of the characters.

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher. Park Square Media Photos

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher has created a timely piece of theater that reflects our current situation. He designed the show to be done virtually during the Time of Covid-19 and its limitations. The actors are all in their own safe space, zooming into the show. They are actors, playing actors, for a place called Mystery Island Old Dark House Theater. (Sounds like a fun place to visit!) It’s been one year since their last performance and the disappearance of one of the actors, Verity. This is a typical Who Dunnit with plenty of references to the greats: Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even puzzles from the likes of J.R.R. Tolkein.

Hilda (Shanan Custer) is the boozy ex-wife of the director and host, Arno (E.J. Subkoviak). He’d had an affair with Verity, which Hilda learned about just before Verity went missing. Betty (Alessandra Bongiardina) is part of the cast for the first time (after several audition attempts to get into the troupe.) She is replacing Verity. Petra (Aimee K. Bryant) serves as a moderator. She has a harsh demeanor, making me think she has something to hide. Frye (Pearce Bunting) is billed as the “Perfect Suspect.” He’s notoriously late, which seems to be significant, and is a little jumpy. Chet (Rodolfo Nieto) billed as the “Gigilo” is suspiciously quiet, making me wonder what he’s not saying about the disappearance of Verity. And, Saskia (Sun Mee Chomet) is the “Femme Fatale” who seems capable of doing anything and not showing any remorse. 

Full cast of Riddle, Puzzle, Plot, showing virtually through Park Square Theatre. Media Photo

In this first episode of four, we get to know the characters, why they have been assembled for this event, and how they’re connected to the missing Verity. They are all trapped on the island in their own cabins, and the tension rises in the one hour they spend getting to know each other. As the audience, we’re given riddles to solve, along with trying to figure out what happened to poor Verity. Jeffrey Hatcher is a master at the craft, adding wit and humor, and getting us quickly involved in the plot. (If any of you have seen his amazing, dark, musical Glensheen, you’ll know what I mean.) Warren C. Bowles directs this provocative virtual performance. Tech by Aaron Fiskradatz.

You can still catch the first episode of this four part murder mystery series at Park Square Theatre. Enjoy the show from the safety and comfort of your own living room and crunch away on your snacks to your heart’s content. You won’t be bothering anyone other than the folks at your own home, and the actors won’t be distracted by your cell phone going off.

I’ll be tuning into some Minnesota Fringe Fest shows this year, too. My first time. Usually, I’m traveling or have other plans during Fringe week, but now I can watch it from home. Maybe I’ll invite a friend to view some of the shows with me. I’ll make popcorn, chips and guac, and slurp on an icy beverage. Bonus, we can talk about the show as it’s happening. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What are some entertaining things you’ve been doing this summer while social distancing?