Play­house’s ‘The Game’s Afoot’ a doozy of a farce

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - By Cate Blouke Spe­cial to the Amer­i­canS­tates­man “the Game’s afoot” When: Where: Cost: In­for­ma­tion: Cate Blouke is an Amer­i­canS­tates­man free­lance arts critic.

When you walk into a the­ater and find an ar­se­nal of weaponry dis­played on the back wall of the set, it’s a pretty good sign that some­body is go­ing to die on stage. And Austin Play­house’s pro­duc­tion of Ken Lud­wig’s far­ci­cal “The Game’s Afoot,” play­ing through Jan. 13 at their new High­land Mall fa­cil­ity, doesn’t dis­ap­point when it comes to mur­der, may­hem and ex­treme silli­ness.

For­tu­nately, the band of ac­tors gath­ered in a se­cluded man­sion (on a dark and stormy night, none­the­less) only kill off the the­ater critic, so no one counts it a great loss — just a ma­jor in­con­ve­nience what with the po­lice and all.

The show cen­ters on Wil­liam Gil­lette ( Ja­son New­man), the play­wright and ac­tor who adapted the Sher­lock Holmes mys­ter­ies to the stage. When vi­o­lence erupts amongst peo­ple in­volved with the play, Gil­lette fan­cies him­self a gen­uine in­ves­ti­ga­tor and gets ev­ery­one to­gether for a dose of de­duc­tion.

8 p.m. Thurs­daysSatur­days, 5 p.m.. Sun­days through Jan. 13.

Austin Play­house, High­land Mall, 6001 Air­port Blvd. $28-$30

www. austin­play­house.com

With a house full of semi-delu­sional ac­tors and a snarky the­ater critic (Lara Toner), we’d ex­pect noth­ing less than a bunch of plot­ting, con­niv­ing and back-handed com­pli­ments. Throw a mur­der mys­tery into the mix along with an en­thu­si­as­tic but slightly dotty lo­cal po­lice­woman (Cyndi Wil­liams), and you have the recipe for a doozy of a farce.

On open­ing night, how­ever, the pac­ing stut­tered quite a bit, which makes farce tough to keep alive. With all the in-one­door-and-out-the-other shenani­gans that farce en­tails, tim­ing is ev­ery­thing, but this pro­duc­tion will likely im­prove with time. Be­cause they em­ploy so many eq­uity ac­tors, Play­house has a fairly short re­hearsal sched­ule, and so their shows of­ten catch their stride in the sec­ond week.

Nev­er­the­less, Cyndi Wil­liams is de­light­ful as In­spec­tor Gor­ing, even if her Bri­tish ac­cent is a bit puz­zling in North­ern Con­necti­cut. Joey Banks is an af­fa­ble syco­phant try­ing to climb his way to the top, and Ja­son New­man doesn’t dis­ap­point in his role as a mildly mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal wanna-be mys­tery-solver.

While wait­ing out the con­struc­tion of their new the­ater in the Mueller devel­op­ment, Austin Play­house has found a new tem­po­rary home in an empty space in the High­land Mall. Un­like the tent that the Play­house lived in last sea­son, the new space features bet­ter cli­mate con­trol, sturdy floor­ing and in­door plumb­ing. And it isn’t sub­ject to the am­bi­ent noise of air­planes over­head or heavy rain­fall. The only down­side to the new space is that the oth­er­wise com­fort­able seats don’t have as much height be­tween rows, so au­di­ences see a bit more of each other than might be ideal.

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