‘The Game’s Afoot’ at SBCC

A Comic Murder Mystery Revels in Mayhem

Brian Harwell (left) and Sean Jackson in the opening scene of <em>The Game’s Afoot</em>. Madison Duree and Nancy Nufer look on.

Courtesy Photo

Brian Harwell (left) and Sean Jackson in the opening scene of The Game’s Afoot. Madison Duree and Nancy Nufer look on.

A comic murder mystery featuring dissolute Broadway actors packed into a lavish country house for the Christmas holiday, Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot revels in complex plot lines, Shakespearean allusions, and some daffy mayhem. After a brief and startling opening sequence involving a play within the play, the action shifts to the Connecticut mansion of William Gillette (Brian Harwell), an actor turned playwright with a Sherlock Holmes fixation. There the cast plays out some of the familiar devices from Agatha Christie–type mysteries, including a hilarious séance, a secret room, and … murder! Harwell is excellent as Gillette, smoothly shifting from one role or alliance to another yet with just enough awkwardness to keep things humorous. Sean Jackson gets some of the evening’s biggest laughs as Gillette’s best friend and fellow thespian Felix Geisel.

At the heart of the wacky first act, there’s Nancy Nufer as Daria Chase, a ruthless columnist/theater critic in the “man who came to dinner” mold. If there’s one big reason to see The Game’s Afoot, it is for Nufer’s over-the-top turn as Daria. She may not have the show’s most lines, but she makes the most of the ones she has.

While the mystery gets solved in Act Two by Inspector Goring (Leslie Gangl Howe), it’s the young couple Simon Bright (Ben Offringa) and Aggie Wheeler (Madison Duree) who have the wildest moments. Is that because they are heroes, or villains? You’ll never get it out of me.