From zany pratfalls, to nutty characters, to theatrical deaths, there’s nothing subtle about Cow Patti’s season-opening thriller, The Butler Did It.
The question in this dinner theatre play — which opened to riotous audience reaction on Thursday at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club — isn’t so much whodunnit? as who’s gonna get bumped off, and in what wacky way?
The silly, convoluted story revolves around theatrical director Anthony J. Lefcourt, played with over-the-top aplomb by professional Ontario actor Allan Cooke. Lefcourt and his cast of eccentric actors are in the process of putting on an off- off-Broadway murder mystery.
These are the kind of pompous theatre folk that obsess about themselves, talk endlessly about their ‘craft’ (but pronounce it ‘croft’), and are scenery chewers of the highest order. We’re talking rubber-faced Jim Carrey-like levels of mugging here.
The biggest ham is Lefcourt, who has the fashion sense of Don Cherry, the humility of Donald Trump, and the subtle acting techniques of Mr. Bean. His silent scenes of tip-toeing across stage to Pink Panther music are among the play’s highlights.
Without revealing too much of the script by Walter and Peter Marks, suffice to say the thriller is loaded with egotistical, dim-witted and sexually provocative characters — all played to the Nth-degree of exaggeration by a high-energy cast of theatrical pros who mostly tackle two roles each.
Cow Patti veteran Linda Goranson (Angela Butler/Natalie) is fearless in her depiction of a grasping, past-her-prime actress who’s managed to snag herself a boy toy.
Garfield Andrews plays Raymond Butler/Robert as a vague, line-forgetting bumbler, while Cow Patti newbie Alison MacKay (Victoria Butler/Claudia) is terrific as a wide-eyed ingenue with a Broadway-baby voice and tap dance moves.
Italian stallion Michael/Aldo the Butler is suggestively — and hilariously — played by Eric Finlayson, while Patric Masurkevitch portrays Detective Mumford/Sam as Sherlock Holmes morphing into Cameron from Modern Family.
Director AnnaMarie Lea does a fantastic job of keeping the action rolling — which is a good thing, because The Butler Did It works best when audience members don’t have time to dwell on the unlikely hijinx unfolding on stage.
Sometimes a goofy comedy can be just what the doctor ordered…
Check out Cow Patti’s production that runs to Dec. 11.