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 the second episode of Riddle, Puzzle, Plot – the plot thickens. Hatcher increases the suspense with what appears to be two more deaths. This episode feels a little like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, as characters, who are trapped on an island, meet their demise, one by one. It gives the viewer two things to ponder, Who dunnit? of course, and Who will be the next victim? Also, Petra briefly showed us a map of the island (I wish we could have it available to study) to give us an idea of where the cabins are that the actors/suspects/victims are in. Or, are they? A person could participate in a zoom meeting from anywhere, right?

The killer is never the most obvious, which to me, is Hilda. After all, Verity (the deceased) was having an affair with her husband Arno (who is now out of commission) and she has a drinking problem. Frye is suspiciously free to move about, and I’m worried about Chet. I’m predicting that Saskia will be the next to go, unless she’s the killer. Dang. I never guess correctly. Like Christie, Hatcher has given us a puzzle to solve. I’m loving it. I’ll tune in earlier this week! Now, I’m dying to know what happens!!!

Rodolfo Nieto playing Chet in Jeffrey Hatcher’s Riddle, Puzzle, Plot, virtually, through Park Square Theatre. Photo from Park Square Theatre media.

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 two episodes 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 have my adult sons visiting this week, so I didn’t have a chance to watch any MN Fringe shows on Tuesday. I watched this one while making dinner for my boys. Since I felt so grateful for them being here during this Time of Covid-19, and the chance to experience some theater both live (outdoors at CLC Performing Arts) and virtually, I made some of our Thanksgiving favorites: pork loin with bacon, a mountain of mashed potatoes, my mom’s escalloped corn, and home made bread. Is your mouth watering? 

Stay safe and be well!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What new recipes, or favorite comfort food, have you been making during the Covid crisis?