Bob Barry’s "Murder Among Friends" at the Brown County Playhouse is a funny murder mystery, mystery. I didn’t stutter there, there’s enough twists in this show that ‘mystery’ needs to be said twice. My theatre partner and I enjoyed most of the intermission trying to guess who was going to do what to whom and even who, who was.
Actor Wolf Sherrill made a welcome return appearance as Palmer, the slightly fading, but still wolfish aging actor. Palmer want his wealthy wife Angela, played by Coryell Barlow, to leave their own boringly domestic farce for the company of angels. Angela, wants Palmer to make a similar career move. Palmer’s agent, Ted, played by Jonathan Molitor wants…well, I’d better not reveal too much. All the leads acquitted themselves with aplomb. Director Dale McFadden’s overall sense of high style prevailed and was nicely realized in his blocking and direction.
Of the supporting players, I particularly enjoyed the heft that Chris Nelson brought to the character of Marshall the producer. Melissa Joy Nedell, as his wife Gert, cut a classy figure, but was a little inconsistent from speech to speech. She’s still working on the focus of her character. The character of Larry, and he’s another one that I’d better not tell you too much about, is a difficult one. Dane Bolinger brought good energy to opening night, but needs to let his speeches breath a little more for easy understanding.
"Murder Among Friends" is set in a fancy New York duplex. Chib Gratz’s set for the show really had the polish and uncomfortable gloss of just such a place. From the hard bare walls to the furniture that looked more like pieces for the Museum of Modern Art than things you’d want to sit on,and the actual art work, the place looked terrific. The show’s overall impact was substantially supported by the rich costumes of Amanda K. Bailey.
The sound design went along with the mood and even got a laugh of its own with selections from Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and the exquisite Blossom Dearie.
"Murder Among Friends" is engaging without being too taxing, funny without being too uproarious and classy without being off putting. It’s just the sort of entertainment for a summer night.
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The Brown County Theatre production of "Murder Among Friends" plays Wednesdays through Sundays through August fourth.