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Sherlock Holmes strikes again in SBCC’s ‘The Game’s Afoot’

The Channels Art Pages | STAFF REVIEW

Elizabeth Saubestre, Staff Writer

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The stakes are high for the eccentric cast of characters that appear in “The Game’s Afoot” as they scramble around onstage to try to answer the age-old question: “whodunnit?”

On Christmas Eve, 1936, Broadway star William Gillette invites cast members to his Connecticut home only for the festivities to be cut short when it becomes apparent that a murderer may be on the loose, prompting Gillette to assume the role of Holmes once more.

Ken Ludwig, the playwright responsible for such shows as “Lend Me a Tenor,” is well known for his comedic style, and “The Game’s Afoot” is no exception. It has several of the classic farces used by the genres, including grand entrances via several doors.

The play feels like a love note to murder mystery plays. With significant moments punctuated by thunder, dramatic glances, and flickering lights, the show isn’t lacking in cliches, but that only adds to its charm.  

The relatively small amount of audience members were certainly enjoying themselves, laughing at the slew of jokes that were being made and clapping after a particularly excellent performance.

The characters are all extremely memorable, and they’re portrayed by a cast of talented actors that truly bring their oddness to life.

In particular, Nancy Nufer shone in both her sparkling evening gown and her portrayal of Daria Chase, an eccentric gossip columnist. Nufer provided several laughs and managed to come off as being extremely over-the-top without overdoing it, as much as that may seem to be an oxymoron.

Leslie Gangl Howe also delighted the audience as an odd police inspector, and was treated to a loud round of applause after her final scene.

Sean Jackson and Jenna Scanlon had excellent chemistry, both shining whenever they were on stage, but even more so together. Madison Duree and Benjamin Offringa were a convincing young couple, and although it was both of their debuts with the Theatre Group at City College, they fit in well with the veteran actors.

Last but certainly not least, Brian Harwell and Leslie Ann Story played an excellent mother and son relationship. Harwell managed to capture the essence of an old-school Sherlock Holmes extremely well.

All of the actors performed well in scenes where they were coupled off. They seemed to shine in these two-on-two moments of comedy and tension.

They’re actors portraying actors, which is half of the fun. Not only that, but the play starts with a play within a play, which provides an interesting backdrop and a bit of context.

As far as the actual backdrops go, the scenic design was truly impressive. Audience members gasped when the stage moved after the first scene, and murmured with delight upon realizing that it was snowing “outside” the French doors.

The costumes were beautiful, and again, Daria Chase comes to mind as an excellent example. Her long, jeweled dress and feathery boa were truly a sight to see.

“The Game’s Afoot” was a fun romp through a 1936 murder mystery, with plenty of laughs to be had. Not only that, but it was extremely satisfying to understand how all of the pieces fit together, making it a successful mystery.

The play will be running from October 12-27. Tickets can be purchased online and at City College’s box office, which can be reached at (805) 965-5935. Prices range from $10-26.

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Sherlock Holmes strikes again in SBCC’s ‘The Game’s Afoot’