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Prime Stage Theatre Presents:
A Knavish Piece of Mystery – Act II

October 8th, 2020

Strange things are afoot at the New Town Theatre!

Two actors are missing. Another has run off to hide in a water closet. And the New Town players are struggling to open a locked room that may harbor a terrible secret.

But August LaFleur holds back. An expert at devising and solving mysteries, he’s convinced that the real answers may lie deeper within the theatre’s renovated rehearsal space.

And so begins an exploration of a haunted brownstone — a windowless building with few exits … and ample places for mysteries to hide.

It all happens as A Knavish Piece if Mystery continues today at Prime Stage Mystery Theatre, and you can hear it all by clicking the player above or — if you missed the previous installments — by visiting the Mystery Theatre podcast library here. It’s all part of the virtual season of new performances being released under the banner Prime Online.

Other performances in the series will include a Zoom performance of Mockingbird, Kathryn Erskine’s National Book Award winning novel (adapted by Julie Jensen), and live-stream performances of Williard Simms’ Einstein, A Stage Portrait and an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

It’s all part of Prime Online’s mission of bringing theatre to you at home.

Also coming up is a virtual preview of Prime Stage’s 2021-22 season of live performances, which will kick off in November 2021 with my all-new adaptation of Frankenstein.

You can hear Prime Stage’s Operations Director Tina Cerny talk about these shows and more in the introduction to this week’s installment of A Knavish Piece.

Click the player at the top of this post. We’ll meet you there.

Countdown to Mystery: The Last of Shelia

September 28th, 2020

One strategy for writing an effective mystery: plot backward. Determine the ending, build from there.

I’ve heard that’s the strategy employed by actor Anthony Perkins (Murder in the Orient Express, Psycho) and Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim (A Little Night Music, West Side Story) in writing their only produced screenplay – the intricately plotted who-done-it The Last of Shelia (1973).

The film has a set-up similar to that of Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth, in which mystery writer Andrew Wyke  (Laurence Olivier) invites stylist Milo Tindle (Michael Cain) to a game-filled mansion in South West England. Similarly, In Shelia, we have film producer Clinton Green (James Coburn) inviting a screenwriter (Richard Benjamin) to his game-filled yacht in the south of France. But he doesn’t come alone. Like Murder on the Orient Express, Shelia features an ensemble cast of eccentric characters – each of whom has something to hide.

Moreover, as with Deathtrap, the ensuing mystery becomes self-referential, with characters discussing a film project titled The Last of Shelia.

It’s great fun, and I dare say no more for fear of spoiling the surprises. (Check out the no-spoiler trailer below if you aren’t already hooked.)

This is the fourth installment in our countdown to Prime Stage Theatre’s release of A Knavish Piece of Mystery – an audio who-done-it that employs many of the tried-and-true elements mentioned above. Nevertheless, as with all of these recommended films, I trust you will find that A Knavish Piece makes something fresh with the mix of classic ingredients.

Like Sleuth, The Last of Shelia is overdue for a home video upgrade. Though available on a Warner Archive’s DVD and a panned-and-scanned VHS (for those nostalgic for the pioneer days of home video), the film has not yet been released on Blu-Ray or 4K. I suspect it has something to do with limiting the film’s circulation in anticipation of a remake, which has been rumored for a few years now.

Streaming is available through Prime (SD only) and Apple TV.

Stop back tomorrow for another mystery recommendation. Three days to go!