Reserve time for ‘Reserve Two for Murder’
It’s not often theater audiences get to help solve a murder and laugh about it, but the Battle Mountain High School Players are doing it this week.
The troupe is presenting the fast-paced comedy/murder mystery “Reserve Two for Murder.”
“The flow of the play is supposed to be frenetic; since the action takes place all over the theater, the audience won’t know where to look next,” said Suzanne Foster, the play’s director.
The play is fast and fun, as it’s supposed to be, and the BMHS Players pull it off with enthusiasm and skill.
“Reserve Two for Murder” is a departure from the hackneyed mystery play, combining moments of thrilling action with some side-splitting comedy.
The action opens with a play-within-a-play in a small New York City theater.
As the play-within-a-play unfolds, the theater is plunged into complete darkness and one of the actors is shot and killed by someone sitting in the audience.
The plot gathers astonishing speed and scoops up all manner of developments, including a second murder by poison, a corpse that vanishes and reappears in the rear of the theater, a disclosure that a sinister spy ring is is at work in the theater, and all sorts of other twists designed to keep the audience engaged but not confused.
The mystery is finally unraveled by two detective who have come to see the performance: Sergeant Kennedy and Lee, her proverb-spouting assistant.
Much of the action takes place in the auditorium with the audience joining in, interacting seamlessly with the stage action. New York City audiences have enjoyed the play for decades, screaming and laughing and shouting along with the actors.
Despite the title, “Reserve Two for Murder” is free from anything morbid or suggestive. It’s really very funny and you really should see it.
The play had a successful run at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City in the spring of 1939, right after Randall wrote it, and has been a favorite of amateur and professional theater companies ever since.
John Randall’s original 1939 three-act script calls for 15 actors, but Foster and assistant director Cooter Overcash took the-more-the-merrier approach, adding actors and elements.
They added an Irish Police Squad under the supervision of a Bavarian commander, Officer Schultz (Raliegh Addington). The Usherettes are new. At the beginnings and ends of each act, they help the audience understand what they just saw and what they’re about to.
They also added The Wicked Bad Stage Hands who keep the audience highly entertained with their hilarious set changes.
The cast lines up like this: Jake Dutmer (Lee), Jamie Overcash (Kennedy), Susanna DeChant (Mrs. Thruston-Allen), Remsen Allard (Dr. Edwards), Jillian Kiss (Naomi Edwards) and Bailey Garton (Sally Lynch), Woody Brook (William Russell) and Jazz Sheffer (Eloise).
And here’s one for the water cooler: “Reserve Two For Murder” was Calista Flockhart’s last drama club play in high school.
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