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‘The Game’s Afoot’ at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre falls below expectations

Civic Theatre's poster design for

Civic Theatre's poster design for "The Game's Afoot" is shown here. More information about the show can be found at civictheatre.org or by calling 317-843-3800. SUBMITTED PHOTO / CIVICTHEATRE.ORG

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Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre is showing the play “The Game’s Afoot,” directed by Michael J. Lasley, from now until Nov. 7. Despite some parts of the show that were well done, the overall production failed to impress as much as past shows have. “The Game’s Afoot” is a Sherlock Holmes inspired mystery in which a Broadway actor, William Gillette, is shot and almost killed by one of his fellow actors. The eccentric man invites these actors over to his mansion for a Christmas party in order to figure out who wants him dead and what exactly happened that fateful night.

The show itself started out very slow, and didn’t pick up much until the second act. Obviously, the theatre itself cannot be blamed for how the script was written, however, the actor’s energy mirrored the script. The energy the actors displayed was essentially dead for most of the first act, and it made the show rather hard to watch. The slowness of the plot combined with the lack of energy from the actors and actresses dragged down the energy of the audience, making it far less interesting than it could have been.

The acting improved drastically toward the end of the act, and the improvement lasting for the entire rest of the show. Two actors I would like to commend on their energy and consistency are Carrie Ann Schlatter as Inspector Goring and Christine Kruze as Daria Chase. Despite the fact that Kruze’s part was almost entirely done in the first act, she kept consistent strong energy and really helped save some scenes that were falling apart due to lack of energy. Schlatter’s part was entirely in the second act, which had much more energy than the first, and although her role was not as large as some others, she was one of the best actresses on stage. Her accent was consistent throughout the show and her comic abilities really showed through on stage.

However, not every actor was as commendable as those two. Certain actors never seemed to really find their bearing in the show. One of these was Wendy Brown as Martha Gillette. Her comic timing was never quite right, and it created a bit of tension because the audience wasn’t able to laugh at some funny moments because her delivery threw off the humor. In addition, Emily Hollowell and Alex Ray as Aggie Wheeler and Simon Bright were not the strongest. Hollowell seemed to struggle to find motives for her character, and her line delivery lacked expression. Ray had trouble making his character believable, which seemed partly due to the fact that he wasn’t entirely committed to his character. If he had gone bigger with the part, it might have been a stronger delivery. Other than these few, the actors and actresses did a nice job with the show.

The set of this show was absolutely incredible and insanely intricate. It included a complete set of stairs leading to an onstage upper level, a rotating bar section, a desk, a telephone that was time-period appropriate, a wall decorated with very authentic-looking weapons including axes, guns, daggers, and swords, a set of chairs and a couch with a table. One of the best parts of the set was that out of the windows in the back of the set, the audience could see snow falling outside of the house. The really impressive thing about this was that the snowfall was constant throughout the entire show instead of just happening at particular moments or when the weather was mentioned in the script. This set, overall, was the best set I have ever seen in a community theatre production, and I wholeheartedly applaud Ryan Koharchik, the set designer, and anyone else who worked on it.

Despite some shortcomings, I really enjoyed this show once it got to the more exciting parts of the script and certain actors began to shine through. “The Game’s Afoot” runs at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre from now until Nov. 7. Tickets are available at civictheatre.org or at 317-843-3800.

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‘The Game’s Afoot’ at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre falls below expectations