‘Write Me a Murder’ Opens at Pierson
By SUE PASCOE
The Palisades Theatre production of “Write Me a Murder” opened on June 8, and will run weekends through Sunday, July 15.
Let’s start with what’s good. Sherman Wayne, who consistently wins awards for his set designs, has outdone himself on this one. The three-act play takes place in Rodingham Manor, an ancient estate in England that has not been updated or renovated in years and needs major work. You can “almost” feel the drafts in this old mansion, with its dusty bricks and gloomy artwork.
June Lissandrello’s costuming is exquisitely done. Actress Holly Sidell, who plays Julie Sturrock, is clothed in one gorgeous period piece after another. The lavender dress she wears on the way to London was beyond gorgeous.
The acting was routinely above what you’d expect at a community theater. Michele Schultz plays Dr. Elizabeth Woolley with a practical, no-nonsense air of someone who has tended the residents of the Manor, the Village and the countryside for years. I really enjoyed her performance.
As the ruthless businessman Charles Sturrock, Phil Bartloff gives a strong performance. Wife Julie (Sidell) is perfect as a woman who is controlled by the men in her life.
Ah, the boorish playboy, the Honorable Clive Rodingham, Tyler Parker is delightfully strong and arrogant playing the older brother.
It’s obvious why his brother, a writer, the Honorable David Rodingham, played by Jeff DeWitt, can’t stand his sibling. The playwright has given DeWitt’s character David the most depth. DeWitt rises to the challenge, and at one point his anguish is so intense that the audience feels his hurt.
The actors have done their work: their characters are believable and fun to watch.
The problem rests with the 1961 play written by Frederick Knott. It opened on Broadway in late October 1961 and closed in April 1962 after 196 performances. Knott had also written “Wait Until Dark” and “Dial ‘M’ for Murder,” both of which were more interesting plays than this one.
Businessman Charles comes to Rodingham to make an offer for the manor and the land around it. He brings his wife, a writer, and when he finds out the younger brother David is also a writer, he encourages him to help Julie.
David and Julie conceive a murder mystery that has a perfect plot—and they plan to use it.
This three-act play has a nice twist at the end, but it is ponderously slow—running almost two and half hours. I challenge residents to go and see if they feel similarly that some plays are best left in the dusty archives.
The play, ably directed by Michael-Anthony Nozzi and produced by Martha Hunter and Sherman Wayne, is at Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Rd.
The play is Fridays and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for students and seniors. There is free parking. Call (310) 454-1970 or visit: theatrepalisades.org.
Oh! That surprise ending! What a web we weave!!