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Whodunit

Repertory Philippines presents a comedic mystery that will leave you laughing and guessing to the very end

Comedy-themed theater shows are few and far between, and Repertory Philippines’ The Game’s Afoot, the local adaptation of Broadway author Ken Ludwig’s mystery-comedy is a good show for those trying to discover or rekindle their love for live acting. Shown at Onstage Theater at Greenbelt 1 in Makati until Feb. 7, it is light and funny with great and fast-paced dialogue complemented by the actors’ great use of early 20th-century New Yorker accent. The play, after all, is set in 1930s United Sates, splitting stage time between Broadway in New York and rural Connecticut. The show starts with the shooting of Broadway star William Gillette after the final scene of a Sherlock Holmes play he stars in. He survives and, recuperating in his palatial home in Conneticut, he spends an eventful Christmas with his mother and fellow cast members. Gillette aims to expose the killer whom, he suspects, is one of the cast members, and when one of his guests is stabbed to death, he quickly assumes the persona of his Holmes character, turning dramatically, and with great comedic flair, into a sleuth. In a story involving a catty journalist, a peculiar female detective, and a sweet old lady, among others, mystery envelopes the whole performance while creating a luxurious atmosphere that’s truly early 20th century.

CLUEDO LIVE The Repertory Philippines’ The Game’s Afoot is perfect for those looking for a good laugh and a good time and looking to unleash their inner Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, or Perry Mason.

CLUEDO LIVE The Repertory Philippines’ The Game’s Afoot is perfect for those looking for a good laugh and a good time and looking to unleash their inner Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, or Perry Mason.

Uncomplicated mystery

The story starts out with a lot of dialogue, and viewers may fall into the trap of thinking there isn’t going to be a lot action. But the slowness of the pace of the first half of the first act is necessary in establishing the premise of the plot, and the pace hastens toward intermission. Stage veterans such as Joy Virata, Paul Holme, Jeremy Domingo, and Pinky Amador are such a joy to watch, and the audience is quickly drawn into the mystery, making everyone participate in the search for the murderer. Of note is Domingo’s portrayal of the funny yet distinguished Felix Geisel, and Everett’s quirky inspector character. It is, however, Amador’s Daria Chase who steals the show, with her character that’s reminiscent of the Wicked Witch of the West if the latter were a sexual predator. With her witty lines and clever banter, she is the life of the performance.

The set is fantastic, very early Art Deco and, combined with the superb lighting, effective in recreating rural America. Satirical references to modern pop culture (such as when yoga and yogurt are described as new things that “will never catch on”) also pack a wallop, eliciting guffaws from the audience, even if the line “This is no joke” is repeated several times. The most complicated part might be in trying to figure out who among the cast has the evil intent. There isn’t much else to think about, and it’s perfect for those looking to have a good laugh and a great time, not to mention a mystery to solve in the hope of unleashing their inner Hercule Poirot or Perry Mason.

Hope in the New Year

Repertory Philippines, now on its 49th year, is opening 2016 with this somewhat Inception-like production (the actors do play stage actors in a play that’s about a murder in a play), and they can only hope that this brings more people to appreciate theater even more.ee

“There’s a lot of wonderful productions in the Philippines, and they’re all asking for the same thing: more audience,” said Joy Virata while still in her Martha Gillette costume. “Filipino actors are some of the best in the world.”

Really, the hope is to get more people into the theater. There is a certain magic in live theater that happens between the performers and the audience, a connection that can never be present on television or in film. The acting is bolder, the connection much clearer.

“Live theater is a bigger proponent of change,” Pinky boasted. “The impact is far greater.”

And this 2016, members of the cast of The Game’s Afoot, an all-Filipino world-class production with the cheapest ticket prices in its class, and the rest of Repertory Philippines are hoping that great change is upon us, where a better appreciation of the performing arts will bring us all to higher ground.

The Game’s Afoot runs until Feb. 7. For tickets, visit www.ticektworld.com.ph.

  • Hans Eckstein

    This article failed to mention that also part of the cast are Naths Everett, Mica Pineda, Jay Glorioso(alternating with Joy Virata), Christine Flores, and Hans Eckstein. Directed by Miguel Faustmann.