Death becomes them

Think the murder mystery genre has been done to death? Proscenium Players Inc. proves that it’s still fit to be revived with Accomplice

Karen Chandler plays a high-maintenance wife in <i>Åccomplice</i>

Karen Chandler plays a high-maintenance wife in Åccomplice

Rated 5.0

Think the murder mystery genre has been done to death? Proscenium Players Inc. proves that it’s still fit to be revived with Accomplice

I t could be argued that the genre of murder mystery comedy has been overdone to within an inch of its life. We have all seen plays that take place in British manors and include a murder, a cover up, a plot twist, an unlikely suspect and maybe another murder and another plot twist. Even plays that poke fun at this formula have become formulaic.

Still, there is a reason this genre lives on and audiences keep laughing. There is a fun, interactive quality about good mysteries. For some, it’s the delight of being surprised. For others, it’s the challenge of predicting what will happen next and the satisfaction of saying, “I saw it coming.”

Accomplice is aimed at those in the latter category. Even in a hackneyed genre, Accomplice is a truly fresh offering that even the cleverest and most cynical viewers will find rife with surprises. However, at no point does the play feel like it’s cheating, which is an inherent danger with the pursuit of originality.

The play begins at (surprise, surprise) a cottage in the English countryside, where a murder is being plotted. At this point, I can reveal nothing more about the plot. I went into Accomplice with no knowledge of the play except for the title, and I would hate to deprive anyone else of the fun of discovering the story. That, and I fear the wrath of the director and actors, whom I recall as being armed and having violent tendencies.

Suffice it to say that the script runs the gamut of comedic styles, from droll British wit to full-contact physical humor, with a few bonus jokes for mystery fans and Proscenium Players regulars. Although I would not recommend bringing young children to this show, adults and teens will find plenty to laugh about.

The play further benefits from a talented cast. Although understudy Paul del Gatto was filling in for cast member Jason Macy on the night I attended, the actors had strong chemistry and impeccable comic timing. Their characters do seem stock—the high-maintenance wife, the ditzy blonde, the dull financier—but Karen Chandler, Susan Lingelbach and Scott van Tuyl bring their characters to life (and death) in unexpected ways. Del Gatto was the most entertaining understudy I’ve ever seen. At press time, it was undetermined whether Macy would return to his role.

Parts of the play are a little rough around the edges, such as the somewhat inconsistent British accents. However, all is forgiven in the second act, when the jokes come fast and furious and the actors start having more and more fun with the audience. By the end of the play, I was laughing so hard I could barely keep up with what was happening onstage.

So without telling any more about what actually happens during those two and a half hours onstage, I will present the following as facts. If you live in Reno, Accomplice is worth the drive to Carson City and will keep you chuckling all the way home. If you live in the Carson Valley, missing this play should be a crime punishable by law. And if you think you’re cleverer than every murder mystery comedy out there, I urge you to take the Accomplice challenge.