‘Art of Murder’ keeps audience guessing until the bitter end

By Bill Schlichting, The Curry Coastal Pilot

GOLD BEACH andndash; The Ellensburg Theater Company's production of "Art of Murder" can be described in two words andndash; it's different.

Even co-director Valerie MacGillivary can attest to this production being like no other. In the program notes she wrote, "Is it a mystery? Is it a comedy? You decide."

I had trouble deciding.

Puns are interspersed throughout this dark comedy about as often as plot twists. Calling this production a mystery would be accurate as well. It's not about who murdered whom, but which character is going to be murder and who succeeds in the end.

Featured are four characters: Jack Brooks, a well established modern artist, played by Michael Hall; Annie Brooks, Jack's wife, played by Brandy Bradley: Vincent Cummings, Jack's New York-based art dealer, played by co-director Ralph Scheeler; and Kate, the Brooks' Jamaican housekeeper, played by Geri Kendall.

From the beginning, when the stage lights come up, the audience will know this will be a strange play as Jack finds refuge listening to Doris Day songs in his isolation chamber which looks very much like a casket.

As the plot continues, Jack wonders how much the value of his art would increase if he were dead. From this point, talk of murder becomes a constant. A couple of times the audience is even led to believe that a murder took place.

The events change, the characters' motives evolve, and malevolence and mayhem ensue.

All of the actors bring their characters to life andndash; or death andndash;andensp; and have perfected their roles; however, Kendall does not project very well and is hard to hear.

Scheeler designed a set that is basic andndash; a living room with the artist's work on the red-painted walls. Perhaps red paint was not to be found in any Gold Beach hardware stores after the set was painted.

Four performances remain for this two-act production that runs 90 minutes, including the intermission. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today (Oct. 22) and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23. Final performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28 and 29.

Tickets are $12. This production contains adult language. For reservations, call 541-247-4ETC (4382). The Rogue Playhouse is at 94196 Moore St.

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