Ravenscroft: A Nice English Country Murder Near LAX
The English drawing room has always represented a certain type of storytelling, dark and deadly serious. This location often serves as the place for tales of Gothic doom and gloom. “Ravenscroft,” recently performed at the Westchester Playhouse, appears to hold to those conventions. Although it starts out as a murder mystery that would make Agatha Christie proud, halfway through it veers toward comedy. Don Nigro‘s play spoofs a Gothic thriller, making for an entertaining experience.
The story is set at a remote English manor house in 1905. The lord of the manor has died in a mysterious fall down the stairs in his home. Police Inspector Ruffing has arrived to investigate. He interrogates suspects (all of them female) but the questions of whodunit and whydunit deepen. After the intermission comes the laughs. The holes in each character’s answers turns into a full-blown comic surprise and the laughs grow as the tale’s convolutions deepen. By the end, the play has successfully skewered the conventions of a traditional British murder mystery and had great fun doing so.
One of the reasons this production worked so well was the set design. The stage is dominated by the drawing room where Ruffing questions each suspect but behind it are an assortment of other chairs. This allows each of these characters to stay in the inspector’s (and the audience’s) subconscious. Aided by the work of a nice cast that obviously was having a great time working together, “Ravenscroft” works for fans of the old mysteries and those open to laughing at them equally.
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Senior Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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