Murder mystery movies are making a comeback and audiences are hungry for whodunits! Who can resist the draw of a mystery during the holidays? The London Community Players bring a festive murder mystery comedy to the Palace Theatre with Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot; or Holmes for the Holidays until December 3! Read on for a spoiler-free review.
What happens when you put the cast of a Sherlock Holmes play in an isolated mansion on Christmas Eve in 1936? William Gillette (Kevin Pegg) is not-so-secretly convinced he is Sherlock Holmes, his on-stage role. Determined to uncover the culprit behind an attempt on his life, he invites his castmates to the home where he lives with his fierce elderly mother, Martha Gillette (Susan Dean).
The guest list includes two couples hiding secrets and scandals: the newly-married Simon Bright (Antonio Fowler) and star actress Aggie Wheeler (Anna Lee-Diemert), and Felix (Derek Roberts) and Madge Geisel (Adrianna Gardiner), who make a decidedly less happy couple. Tensions are high even before Daria Chase (Tameka Brown), a theatre critic with a biting tongue, explodes onto the scene. From there, things go downhill at a breakneck pace. It isn’t long before a body is on the floor.
It was entertaining to watch the ensemble at work onstage. An endlessly tangled web of relationships ties the cast together. Just as you feel like you’re beginning to unravel the twisted plot, you’ll realize you haven’t solved anything yet! It was a unique experience compared to watching a mystery on the screen. We found ourselves playing detective from our seats, minds racing to try and put things together one step ahead of the actors.
Designed by David Long, the set is as ambitious as it is stunning. The two-storey, Christmas-decked mansion looks right at home on the Palace Theatre’s stage. Doors and secrets in the walls allow guests to step into other rooms and reappear in ways that kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering when someone might stumble across something they weren’t supposed to see.
Intermission was the perfect time to compare notes with friends and place bets about who killed who and why. With several competing theories, all we could do was strap in for a second act that wasted no time diving back into the thick of things!
This show is best enjoyed with a lively audience, so make sure you come ready to laugh. Some moments lean a little dark, but fans of black comedy will enjoy the turns the play takes. Naturally, a murder investigation provides plenty of material to work with, from the difficulties of hiding a body to the attempts to dodge eager Inspector Goring (Crystal May).
When the lights came up after curtain call, my friends and I couldn’t wait to debrief and compare notes. I promised you no spoilers, so all I’ll say is that there might be more victims and villains than you expect. Congratulations to the cast and crew for putting together this production!
Right now, the Palace is offering a Friends & Family Holiday ticket package, so there’s no better time to go “Holmes for the Holidays”! Buy three tickets to any performance of The Game’s Afoot and get the fourth free. If you prefer to fly solo, you can save $5 on individual tickets using code AFOOT. I recommend gathering a group of friends and making a night of it!
Feeling lucky? Enter our giveaway on Facebook or Instagram before Friday, December 1st at 10am for the chance to win two tickets to one of the production’s final shows! The last run of shows includes evening performances at 7:30pm from November 30th to December 2nd with a final matinee at 2pm on December 3rd. Visit the Palace Theatre’s website to get your tickets and learn more.