Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Hijinks When The Game's Afoot at Gillette Castle
Also see Stephanie's reviews of All Is Calm, The Nutcracker, Cinderella: The E! True Hollywood Story and Nutcracker on the Rocks and Rob's reviews of Elf the Musical, Jr., The Wind in the Willows and A Christmas Carol
The action starts immediately and never stops. As the lights go up, real-life Sherlock Holmes portrayer William Gillette (Stephen Zamora) and supporting cast are taking their bows after a performance when a shot rings out. Gillette takes it in the arm. In the next scene, he is recuperating at his castle on the Connecticut River. Gillette has invited his friends for Christmas Eveto figure out which one shot him.
The actor's mother Martha Gillette, in a darling portrayal by Sari C. Jensen, welcomes the guests who seem to have climbed up a snowy hill to the front door. French doors at the back of the set cleverly give the illusion that the house is indeed on top of a hill. I've been to Gillette Castle and I can tell you that the fieldstone walls are delightfully rendered by set designer Linda Wilson and set consultant Rick Hassi and their crew.
The guestsSimon and Aggie, Felix and Madgearrive suitably attired in 1930s finery. Tim Riley is Felix Geisel, Gillette's solid best friend and confidant who has secrets of his own. But in a manor-house mystery, doesn't everyone?
Abriana LaValley glitters as smart, wise-cracking Madge Geisel. Amy Cundall and Andrew Leith ably play heiress Aggie Wheeler and her beau Simon Bright, a couple whose recent marriage seems suspiciously close on the heels of the skiing death of Aggie's husband. Zamora is handsome in a tux and his Gillette is everything an eccentric actor should be.
When sharp-tongued Daria Chase (Samantha Conrad), a venomous theater critic, shows up, it's no spoiler to say we know who the dead body is going to be. Everybody has a motive to kill this mean-spirited and powerful witch. When she finally succumbs to murder (or does she?), poor Daria's body is dragged around the mansion in an effort to hide it from Inspector Goring (a spot-on Kathleen Welker, who also directed this production). Kudos to Conrad for her fine sense of physical comedy.
There's a seance and a hidden room and laughs galore in the Adobe's holiday offering. Go and be charmed.
Now through December 20, 2015, Friday-Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday December 13 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sunday December 20 at 2 p.m. only. Thursday December 17 Pay What You Will; Tickets $17-20. The Adobe Theater, 9813 4th St. NW, (505) 898-9222, adobetheater.org