When a wealthy older woman invites a social-climbing young waiter back to her Manhattan loft for a fling, the result is Deadly Murder.
But the question is who gets killed in this mystery/thriller by U.S. playwright David Foley?
There are plenty of twists, turns and double-crosses in this Central Alberta Theatre dinner theatre production, which opens on Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Quality Inn North Hill in Red Deer.
In the tradition of Sleuth and Deathtrap, this 2008 Edgar Award-nominated Deadly Murder will keep audience members guessing as to who is the potential killer and who is the victim. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” said director Sherry Ainscough. “Nothing is as it seems.”
The three-character mystery centres on Camille Dargus, a successful New York jewelry designer with a weakness for handsome young men. “She likes pretty things, and young men are pretty,” said Ainscough.
One night, Camille picks up a 20-something waiter who looks good in a tuxedo at one of her dull society functions and brings him back to her apartment.
Although her intention is to treat this younger man as a “disposable” one-night-stand, Ainscough added there’s more to Billy than meets the eye.
The play opens with the waiter, clad only in a towel, wandering around Camille’s luxurious SoHo digs, examining some of her elegant and expensive things. “He’s charming — and he wants to be rich and famous,” observed Ainscough.
Whatever motives draw Camille and Billy together, things soon turn ugly and the designer has to summon her security guard, Ted, to get the waiter out of her apartment.
And so begins this puzzler of a story that eventually involves a mysterious jewel, role reversals, lots of physical grappling and eventually a murder.
As the plot of Deadly Murder follows its crooked course, the audience will learn that each of the characters has a hidden past, said Ainscough.
“Everybody has a story and sometimes they are not who they present themselves to be.”
Viewers will also see the relevance of a truism Billy likes to repeat: “His philosophy is: for every action, there is a reaction. In other words, if this happens, then that can happen,” said Ainscough.
She believes viewers will enjoy this smartly written play, which offers “something different” than the comedy and farces CAT has staged of late. Deadly Murder, which opened off-Broadway under the title If/Then, is certainly huge fun for the cast and crew, she added.
After producing dozens of CAT plays, Ainscough finally “took the plunge” to direct, lured by Foley’s atmospheric, potboiler of a script.
While this is her first effort, she’s falling back on her years of theatrical experience and advice from her husband, CAT actor/director Keith Ainscough.
“I’ve been a backseat director and a theatre and movie buff … and this has been a great experience,” she said.
Nicole Orr (Camille), Jason Steele (Billy) and Perry Mills (Ted) have considerable combined theatrical exposure. Ainscough praised the cast, as well as her crew, which includes two indispensable high school student stage managers, and set designer and consultant Stuart Reid and Bob Alspach.
The action-packed play also requires the expertise of fight coach Chase Cownden, a recent graduate of Red Deer College’s theatre program.
“There’s a lot of physical activity,” said Ainscough, “and we need some choreography to make sure that (the actors) do what has to be done safely.”
The show runs to Feb. 7. Dinner is at 6 p.m., with the play at 7:30. (Sunday brunch is at 12:30 p.m., show at 2.) Tickets are $65 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.