Lin Knickerbocker and C.J. Leigh are plotting a murder to occur in the Arlene Theater this weekend when the Mouse River Players present the Ian Hornby play "Hello, Is There Any Body There?"
The characters they play, Lady Amelia Simpson-Squire and Sir Malcolm Squire, are writers working on a plot for the perfect murder. Directors Ken Haarstad and Tim Knickerbocker (who had to step in as the butler, Smalls) agreed when they read the script that it was one of the funniest either had ever read.
Lin Knickerbocker, who is playing a lead for the first time with MRP, said, "It has some of the most ridiculous lines in history!"
The cast of “Hello, Is There Any Body There?” on stage at the Arlene Theater. The play runs today through Sunday.
"Things do get a little out of hand as they plan." Haarstad said. "This is a farce, so it's obvious somebody is going to get bumped off - the question is who and how. The victim doesn't cooperate at all."
It's set in a country manor house in England, and the set designed by Tim Knickerbocker is chockablock with knickknacks.
"We have a trivia contest in the program about the things to be found on stage," Haarstad said. "No prizes, but it should prove interesting."
Family friend Freddy Lyons, played by Carl Smith, is the first to arrive to help think of new ideas. Already there is Mabel the housekeeper, played by Brittany Knickerbocker, and then the police arrive, inept and glamorous, possibly before or after or during the murder or murders. Amanda Lindstrom plays Inspector Sides, Susan Thom is WPC Nunnall and Alex Schoenberg-Carton is Constable Fickey. Finally Miss Ermintrude Marbles, in the person of Penny Lipsey, appears to solve the crime. Credits include others such as Rover and Little Dick, the Action Figure, but all will be revealed by the end of the play.
The program also includes a glossary of terms that might be unfamiliar to American audiences, such as "Fool: a cold dessert."
"This is a play of manners," said Haarstad. "In the usual farce there are about seven entrances and several levels (of stages), but we only have two. It's all in the language. There are lots of cringeworthy puns and double entendres. Real groaners."
"Just when you think you've got the rhythm of the play, it takes an obtuse turn you don't expect," Tim Knickerbocker said. "It's full of laughs, and it's a lot of fun."
The end notes mention, "There is even a suspicion that someone may have poisoned the audience."
"No one on stage comes out unscathed," said Haarstad, "but no one in the audience will be embarrassed. Promise."
"Hello, Is There Any Body There?" has performances at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Cost is $10 and is part of the season ticket. Reservations may be made by calling 866-667-1977 or online by emailing the request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"That's something new we've added," Haarstad said. "We can't take payments online, though."