Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

The Game's Afoot
Ivoryton Playhouse
Review by Zander Opper | Season Schedule

Also see Fred's reviews of Romeo and Juliet and Seder and Zander's review of The Bridges of Madison County

Craig MacDonald and Victoria Bundonis
Photo by Anne Hudson
With lots of silly fun and mystery, Ivoryton Playhouse is presenting an antic production of Ken Ludwig's The Game's Afoot. This is a real whodunit and director Jacqueline Hubbard keeps the show spinning merrily from beginning to end. She has a jolly cast at her disposal who are able to provide a great deal of physical comedy and intrigue. Perhaps the most outstanding asset of the production, though, is Daniel Nischan's ornate re-creation of the Gillette Castle, which features many doors and period perfect décor, making it an ideal playground for the vibrant company of actors to enact this murder mystery. The real-life 1919 castle is a well known place to visit in East Haddam, just a short distance from where Ivoryton Playhouse is located.

The Game's Afoot features a somewhat madcap combination of murder and mayhem, with plenty of laughs and surprises along the way. Ken Ludwig's gift for farce was made evident in two of him most famous works, the play Lend Me a Tenor and the musical Crazy For You, for which he wrote the book. The same sense of fun and, at times, mistaken identity are most evident in The Game's Afoot. While this play is not quite as consistently strong as either Lend Me a Tenor or Crazy For You, it has been polished to a high luster here.

In the leading role of William Gillette (an actual actor from the early 19th century who designed the castle that bears his name), Craig MacDonald is a pleasure as he to employs this alter-ego of Sherlock Holmes. (The real William Gillette was most renowned for playing Holmes on stage for more than 30 years.) As Gillette's mother Martha, Maggie McGlone-Jennings is a scream, offering an array of surprises. Also shining is Katrina Ferguson as Madge, a sort of society hostess who is most definitely in the spirit of the evening's mystery, even partaking in a very funny séance in the first act.

The brittle and humorous Beverley J. Taylor plays the much reviled theatre critic Daria Chase, who conducts the séance; Taylor also deserves a lot of credit for allowing herself to be tossed around throughout the show (for reasons not to be revealed here). Victoria Bundonis is suitably starchy and comical as Inspector Goring, who arrives late in the play and has a high time trying to solve the murder mystery. As Madge's husband Felix, Michael Iannucci is super and, playing the youngest characters in the show, Molly Densmore and Erik Bloomquist make a winning couple as, respectively, Aggie and Simon.

The production features topnotch costumes by Kathleen Gephart and ideal lighting design by Marcus Abbott. Thanks to a game and talented cast, and the lively work by director Jacqueline Hubbard, The Game's Afoot at Ivoryton Playhouse provides a great deal of lighthearted mirth, as well as some appropriate chills along the way.

The Game's Afoot continues performances at Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT through November 19, 2017. For tickets, please visit or call the box office at 860-767-7318.