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