This show runs approximately 2-1/2 hours, including one intermission.
PLEASE NOTE: This production includes cigarette smoking on stage.
THE HOUSE OPENS 45 MINUTES BEFORE CURTAIN. You may want to arrive early to enjoy the exhibit in our art gallery with refreshments ranging from coffee and cookies to beer and wine.
POST-SHOW DISCUSSION: Join the company of Go Back for Murder for a post-show discussion following the Sunday matinee on December 2.
AUDIO-DESCRIPTION: The Sunday, December 2nd performance will be audio-described, based on reservations. Click here for a description of this and other access services at TRP.
About the Show
(company members are listed at the bottom, following the interview with the director)
Carla’s engaged to be married, but before she can go forward with her life, she must first deal with something old – 16 years ago her philandering father was murdered and her mother convicted of poisoning him. Now grown into the mirror image of her mother, Carla believes she was innocent and wishes to clear her name. Enlisting the help of a young solicitor whose own father defended Caroline at trial, Carla gathers together the witnesses to meet again at the scene of the incident. As Carla reconstructs the events leading to her father’s death, the past and present mingle in fascinating twists expertly wrought in the Queen of Mystery’s signature style.
Director Lynn Musgrave brings her own signature style to the TRP arena, with a skilled cast and powerful production details to address the distinctive demands of this Christie mystery in the round.
Interview with the Director
Q: The conceit in this story is the reconstruction of a death (murder? suicide?) that took place 16 years ago, with those present at the time returning to the scene of the crime. How are you handling the challenge of depicting your actors as 16 years younger?
MUSGRAVE: It’s actually more than just the characters traveling back in time; the family estate of the Blake brothers also has to transform. Agatha Christie was fairly ingenious in terms of describing handling both; the characters return to 16 years earlier early in Act II; they arrive at the scene of the crime on a cold, rainy night in 1961 in monochromatic darkness, wearing hats, scarves, and overcoats; following voice overs from the principals “setting the scene,” lights reveal the colorful sunny garden and conservatory filled with youthful characters dressed in their summer best.
Q: The show is intentionally double cast in some roles. Without spoiling, what do you want to say about this? How are your actors rising to their challenges?
MUSGRAVE: For once, we have no red herrings in double casting. The play is written for the actress playing Carla, Claire Avery, to also play her mother Caroline. Mark Mattison is playing Caroline’s husband Amyas; as he’s only seen in Act II, he’s also appearing in the first scene as the aged law clerk Turnball.
Q: In addition to the acting challenges, the show provides some meaty logistical challenges in its very rapid transitions of time and place. How are these being tackled?
MUSGRAVE: Once again, TRP’s terrific designers rise to the challenge. Lights, sound, and a bit of technical wizardry keep the action flowing. As I mentioned earlier, each “flash back” is accompanied by narration (mostly in recorded voice over form) and music taking us back and forth. That provides for the quick costume and set changes required and transports the audience from August 1945 to late autumn in 1960 and back again throughout the course of Act II.
Q: In these “Me Too”-saturated times, it’s interesting to read about the philandering behavior of a central character and the women in his life, including a character who was 19 when she entered into what she asserts was a eyes-wide-open, willing/shameless affair with an older married man. Given that the script is written by the world’s premiere woman playwright, and given your own perspective, does this 60-year-old play have any messages relevant to today’s sexual conduct controversies? To what extent does the context of our times affect the production of this show? Or do you try to avoid bringing the present into a period piece that is after all, intended for entertainment and not controversy?
MUSGRAVE: Agatha Christie assiduously avoided sociopolitical comment; she wrote to keep her audiences entertained throughout several tumultuous decades in the 20th Century. It’s impossible to miss, however, Dame Agatha’s evolving perspective on men behaving badly; Amyas was a philanderer, pure and simple. There’s no sugar-coating in this script; his enablers’ feeble excuses certainly ring hollow to our ears, but they ring equally hollow to his adult daughter’s as she learns the truth.
Q: By what magic has Hoover and company worked a set that can serve as multiple locations- offices, a flat, hotel suite, restaurant, an estate?
MUSGRAVE: Our set design is a stunning return to what TRP does best; allowing the arena floor to become a flat canvas for the rapid scene changes in Act I, transforming into a sunny garden and conservatory in Act II — with an able assist from Mark Keiffer’s lights.
Q: The script is dated 1960. In what year(s) are you setting the show? And what was your rationale for when you are setting the show?
MUSGRAVE: We’re keeping the timeline created by Dame Agatha; we start in the fall of 1961 — primarily because setting it a year earlier would have resulted in flashing back sixteen years to England in 1944 while the V-2 rockets from Nazi Germany were still soaring overhead. I only briefly considered changing the time; this script feels right to me set when it was written; as one of her later works, it represents a natural evolution on the part of Agatha Christie with its more highly developed characters. It’s still a “whodunit”, but much more of a psychological one.
Q: There is a portrait of Elsa which is a key element in the show. Set piece or prop? Who/how is it being created?
MUSGRAVE: As I write, that portrait is a work in progress; it’s going to be a technical hybrid, as there are two of them — one in progress on the easel in the garden in 1945 and the hanging on the wall in 1961. But we’re not relying on prop designer Lynn Seeling to produce it — that would be cruel and unusual punishment. So it will be a surprise for all — likely with Michael Hoover’s sleight of hand involved.
Justin Fogg: Grant Hooyer
Turnball: Mark L. Mattison
Carla: Claire Avery
Jeff Rogers: Jared Walz
Philip Blake: Erik Steen
Meredith Blake: Hazen Markoe
Lady Melksham: Gabriella Abbott
Miss Williams: Annette Kurek
Angela Warren: Gillian Mueller
Caroline Crale: Claire Avery
Amyas Crale: Mark L. Mattison
ARTISTIC & PRODUCTION STAFF
Director/Sound Designer: Lynn Musgrave
Assistant Director: Tina Frederickson
Set Designer: Michael Hoover
Costume Designer: John A. Woskoff
Lighting Designer: Mark Kieffer
Prop Designer: Lynn Seeling
Stage Managers: Kristin Smith, Alex Berger