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A Trap Full of Monsters:
Responses to Last Week’s Mystery

October 14th, 2021

“Well then, I suppose that leaves us no choice but to enter through the devil’s door.” — August LaFleur, “A Trap Full of Monsters,” Act I

Since our previous episode of Prime Stage Mystery Theatre concluded with August LaFleur suggesting that the only way into the New Towne Theatre is through something he called a “devil’s door,” we posed the question: What is a devil’s door and how might it have anything to do with a theatre that used to be a church?

Among the responses we received was one from David Pascal, a producer and creative director from southern California. He’s the owner of Pascal Records and producer of such bands as The Blue Hawaiians, Jetpack, The Vanduras, and the upcoming Pearly King and the Temple Thieves. In addition, he evidently knows a thing or two about church architecture and medieval history, since his response to our question was right on target. He writes that a devil’s door is “a door situated on the north ‘heathen’ side of a church. Many have been bricked up to prevent the Devil from reentering.”

Also right on the mark, and expanding greatly on David’s response, is Dr. Gina Wisker. She is the author of over two-dozen academic books (including Margaret Atwood: An Introduction to Critical Views of her Fiction), numerous articles, and six poetry collections; she also co-edits Dissections: A Journal of Contemporary Horror. Moreover, although she currently teaches at the University of Bath – she is formerly of the University of Brighton in Sussex, a county in England known for its devil’s doors!

She writes:

Legend has it that in the Middle Ages, babies were exorcised in the church porch. This happened before they were baptized to banish the devil from the newborn so the baby could be brought safely into the church. Popular folklore tells us that the north door was left open during baptism so that, once it left the baby, the devil would quickly exit from the church.

You can read Dr. Wisker’s entire response to our question here.

But devil’s doors are not just to be found in southern England. Best-selling Mexican writer Sandra Becerril assures us of that. Sandra’s latest book La Soledad de los pájaros (The Loneliness of Birds) has just been published by Cazador. She listens to Mystery Theatre in Mexico City, where she tells us: “there are some doors like that in Mexico. The interesting thing is what can happen after crossing them.”

So it seems August LaFleur will want to be careful if he does indeed plan on entering such a portal, as one might wonder what he will find waiting on the other side.

Of course, you won’t need to wonder long. The latest episode of “Trap Full of Monsters” is up now at Prime Stage Mystery Theatre. Check it out, and remember — you don’t need to be a record producer, college professor, or bestselling author to play along. New questions await you at the end of Act II.

Click the player below, give it a listen, and send us a comment. We’ll be waiting … right inside the devil’s door.

A Trap Full of Monsters:
The Return of Prime Stage Mystery Theatre

October 7th, 2021

“It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize out of a number of facts which are incidental and which are vital.”

The above advice comes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and the father of modern detective fiction. And it will be good advice to keep in mind as Prime Stage Mystery Theatre launches its third season today (Tuesday, October 7) with an all-new five-part mystery titled “A Trap Full of Monsters.”

Here’s the synopsis:

Crucial pieces of stage equipment are missing from the Frankenstein set at the New Towne Theatre.

Some players suspect the culprit is the New Towne ghost or some other malevolent presence lurking in the shadows beneath the stage.

Fortunately, master sleuth August LaFleur is in town to record a documentary about the New Towne’s previous mysteries. Unfortunately, he wants you to solve this new puzzle … and he expects you to do it while the documentary crew records.

And so … as camera’s roll, you must set about following clues that involve trap doors, a devil’s portal, and a roster of eccentric characters – some of whom may not be what they seem.

Twists and counter-twists ensue, ultimately leading to a surprising revelation that will once again prove “stories are everywhere.” 

As with the previous seasons, each episode will conclude with a question or story challenge, and you are invited to “practice the art of detection” by chiming in via the contact page at the Prime Stage website.  Alternately, you can respond to posts that that Prime Stage and I will be placing on Facebook and Twitter … or by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.

As with past seasons, episodes of “A Trap Full of Monsters” will feature some of the responses we receive along with behind-the-scenes info on Prime Stage’s upcoming productions: Karloff and Frankenstein.

[Click here to read about Prime Stage’s decision to move the premiere of Frankenstein to fall 2022.]

New episodes of “A Trap Full of Monsters” will be released each Thursday through November 4, the day before Prime Stage presents its preview of Karloff: The Man and the Monster at Pittsburgh’s New Hazlett Theatre.

Click the player below to start the mystery. I’ll meet you there!

Prime Stage Mystery Theatre:
Bringing Mystery to the Virtual Stage

February 25th, 2021

Agatha Christie had quite a formula. She didn’t discover it. Others employed similar elements before her, and many more have practiced it since. But Christie perfected it with her cozy who-done-its featuring Hercule Poirot.

At left: Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) explains his solution to the story’s mystery in Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Available on Hulu and HBO Max.

Christie’s mysteries generally begin by introducing a cast of eccentric characters, progress quickly to an inciting incident (usually a murder), and kick into gear with the arrival of a master investigator who works to solve the mystery. In the end, the sleuth gathers the characters for a big reveal. The mystery is explained, the culprit identified, and order restored.

Rian Johnson pays homage to the Christie’s formula in Knives Out, and I’ve endeavored to do something similar in the Mystery Theatre stories “A Knavish Piece of Mystery” and “The Play’s the Thing.” The latter debuts today on AppleAudibleDeezerLibsyn,  Spotify as well as the Prime Stage website.

At right: The cast of Knive Out assembles for mast sleuth  Benoit Blanc’s solution to the story’s mystery. 

By presenting the story as a podcast series, Prime Stage is able to invite listeners to take part in solving the mystery. Click the link below to join in … or go to the Mystery Theatre’s Lybsyn page where you’ll also find a comment box and a Prime Stage email link. Joining a mystery has never been easier.

Prime Stage Mystery Theatre:
Now on Audible

November 12th, 2020

The complete first season of Prime Stage Mystery Theatre is now available on Audible.

Each episode of Season 1 features a segment of A Knavish Piece of Mystery — a locked-door who-done-it that explores the intersection between life and storytelling. In addition, you’ll also hear comments and interviews in which listeners responding to elements of mystery.

Check it out, and if you like what you hear, consider becoming a Prime Stage Patron by visiting their support page. You’ll be doing your part to keep the footlights warm during these dark days of live theatre.

Also, be sure to take a look at the list of Prime Online‘s upcoming virtual stage performances including Einstein, A Stage Portrait, One Christmas Carol, and Sojourner Truthall of which should help fill the gap while we’re prepping the next five-part installment of Mystery Theatre, which should launch in the first quarter of 2021.

Can’t wait!

More details coming soon!