‘Aaaaaagh! Murder!’: Ad Interim Theatre’s familiar fun
By Maura Judkis
Monday, July 23, 2012
“Aaaaaagh! Murder!” would certainly be considered clever, if only Tom Stoppard hadn’t beaten the Ad Interim Theatre to the punch 50 years ago. The show is a parody of Agatha Christie-style parlor mysteries, but it’s hard to see what this play was trying to accomplish that “The Real Inspector Hound,” Stoppard’s parody of the same, hadn’t done already. And if it’s “Hound” that the folks behind “Murder!” were trying to parody, well, it’s unclear how the parody of the parody comments on the latter, rather than just the original.
Nevertheless: If Ad Interim’s goal was just to put on a fun show with silly accents, comparisons to Stoppard be damned, it succeeded. The setting is the newly christened Gloomethorne Manor (previously named Murderton Abbey, but it was given an optimistic update), where Lord and Lady Killington are about to have a party. After the guests have assembled, the Killingtons are informed that their entire staff has been murdered. They can hardly be bothered: “Shall we move on to fancy hats?” “But we haven’t had pudding.”
As inspector Barnaby Tweed investigates the murders, the four people left in the manor reveal their potential motive for the crime, though these are ignored by the bumbling detective. And, in the good tradition of murder mysteries, the suspects begin to drop -- or do they? In the case of Lady Killington, it’s fainting, not expiring: “I’m ever so sensitive to sudden entrances,” she says, whenever visitors enter the room without properly being introduced by the butler. Lady Killington is played by Claire Coyle, who is a delight to watch, especially in her silent moments, when she is able to compose herself as primly as a cameo brooch.
You can’t count on Tweed to tie up every loose end in this mystery -- but then again, he’s no Inspector Hound.