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Hickory Dickory Dead

Review by Chris McGarry

Chris Sodaro’s darkly comedic, intriguing murder mystery Hickory Dickory Dead premiered at the King’s Playhouse in Georgetown on July 8. This most enthralling, slightly sinister whodunit begins on a stormy night when estranged sisters Connie Girard (Ceri Davis Fletcher) and Regan Tasker (Quinby Barrows) meet at the Victorianish Hickory Dickory Inn for a weekend reunion.

The sisters wait in the living room for assistance and when none arrives, Regan enters the inn administrative office and stumbles across a shocking discovery—the body of co-owner George Mason. The women scream for help and in minutes George’s sister and inn co-owner Essie Mason rushes into the living room.

It takes no time at all for the strict, belligerent Essie to suspect that the sisters may have murdered her brother. The commotion soon attracts the attention of other guests including the cranky, extremely wealthy Clark Curtis (Paul Hopskin), his much younger, ditzy trophy wife Keeky (Tanya Jory) as well as Nigel Grimm (Tim Wartman), a famous horror novelist who ironically is scared of everything.

Meanwhile Regan, an organic food shop owner who is heavily involved in the occult, believes the loud noises she hears in the house are being made by George’s angry spirit. The drama increases when it’s discovered that the inn’s phone lines have been deliberately cut and before long, the paranoid cast members are pointing fingers at each other, desperately searching for clues that will reveal which one of them is the killer.

All of a sudden, to the surprise of some audience members, the stage went completely dark. Then a shot rang out. By now, I was totally engrossed in the story. When the lights came back on, Sara Dane (Melissa Heald), a guest who had been outside for a walk and another guest, the articulate, somewhat snooty Englishman Edgar Hill (Keir Malone), are standing in the living room, Hill with a pistol in his hand.

By this point in the play, you could cut the tension in the room with a knife. Accusations led to deeper hostilities which quickly morphed into fisticuffs. The entire time, the only real voice of reason was Connie, a police dispatcher who, to the disbelief and suspicion of the others, had a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding crime scene investigation.

Near the end, with the heinous crime still unsolved, Regan convinced the other characters to take part in a séance in order to contact the deceased as a last resort. During the dark, chilling séance, George spoke to the characters through Connie, who exposed the murderer(s) and motives for committing the atrocious act.

Colorful sets as well as sound effects that included howling winds and the chilling ringing of a bell truly enhanced the shadowy, slightly unsettling atmosphere of Hickory Dickory Dead. While the props were great, the characters’ distinct personalities are what made this routine murder mystery such a treat to watch. All in all, despite a few slight innuendos, Hickory Dickory Dead is a fantastic production which the whole family will enjoy.

Hickory Dickory Dead was written by Chris Sodaro and directed by Melissa Heald. It plays on Sundays on the King’s Playhouse throughout July and August with the final performance on September 2.

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