by Terrance Mc Arthur
A Shot in the Dark? Oh, yeah! The one about the blind lady, and she doesn’t know the bad guys are in her apartment with her! No, that’s Wait Until Dark. This is A Shot in the Dark.
A Shot in the Dark? Oh, yeah! I remember that one. Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, everybody having affairs with everybody else, and everybody killing everybody else, right?
That was the movie. This is the play, before Blake Edwards and William Peter Blatty (the guy that wrote The Exorcist) turned it into a Pink Panther follow-up. The play is a French bedroom farce without any bedrooms, and it’s playing at the Good Company Players 2nd Space Theatre through April 20, a bonbon filled with creamy, dreamy, laugh-inducing performances.
Josefa (Emily Kearns), a maid, was found with a gun in her hand, and her Spanish chauffeur lover dead. Paul (Joseph Ham), an examining magistrate, newly arrived in Paris from Lyon, is told it’s an open-and-shut case by his boss (Henry Montelongo), but something doesn’t seem quite right. He interviews the maid. Then he interviews her employer, a banker (Gordon Moore), and the banker’s wife (Marikah Christine Leal). Despite the orders of his superiors, the magistrate keeps digging until he unearths the truth.
Ham has a jaunty air, looking like he just thought of something amazing. His comic timing should be the envy of many older actors. He’s not Peter Sellers…thankfully. His character’s mastering of an interrogation technique shows delight every time it works. He has been a mainstay in Reedley for several years, featured and directing in Selma, and he’s doing rather nicely in Fresno, now.
Kearns is bright and bubbly in an Alicia Witt way. She doesn’t know if she killed her lover or not, but she knows she wouldn’t, even though the evidence says she did. Kearns keeps Josefa naïve, but not innocent.
Chase Stubblefield provides solid support as the magistrate’s clerk Morestan, who knows the way Parisian courts work, and keeps congratulating his boss on mastering more than the basics. He’s mildly acerbic, but on Paul’s side. His hiding behind papers is a better reaction than any facial contortions would be.
Moore should be on the GCP Mount Rushmore…or at least his eyebrows. His dry wit makes the banker’s polysyllabic vocabulary a charming facet. Leal is stunning in red, a haughty, entitled woman who can’t be bothered with the rules of the law. She bustles in with power and style. Couture has never been so haute.
Montelongo is blustery like a March wind, sort of a legal Perry White. Kylee Leyva, a GCP newcomer, is perky and inquisitive as the magistrate’s wife who feels a little jealousy about her husband spending so much time with the maid…another woman. Stefan Elensky is crisply official as a guard of the court.
Denise Graziani’s direction keeps the tension going, since this is a murder mystery, and keeps the laughs coming fast and furious. Ginger Kay Lewis’ costumes reflect the earl-sixties style, and that red dress is a knockout!
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. The first 16 episodes are now up! You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean.
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