First of all, let me just say that the Ballard Underground theater has never looked better. Ghostlight Theatricals have recently upgraded their house seats to comfortable, freestanding chairs. A wonderful upgrade that will be appreciated by many theatergoers around the city! Best of all, this change has allowed Dominique Thomas, Scenic Designer for Rope, to turn the small black box space into an stylish mansion worthy of a fancy dinner party. The stage is set with a fireplace, a tall bar, several lamps, elegant arm chairs, and a pristine white couch. Clearly this is an affluent household. The only thing that stands out is a large antique teal chest, positioned in the room like a coffee table. Nowadays, this would be the case, yet in a room so put together, this chest stands out like a sore thumb, and that is exactly the point.
The show begins nearly in the dark, ominous red light illuminates Charles Granillo, sitting on the floor staring at the chest, clearly upset. Wyndham Brandon saunters into the room and flicks on a light, he is cool, casual and clearly manic. “Put out that light!” Granillo commands. Brandon haughtily obliges and tries, unsuccessfully, to cheer his partner up, their tumultuous relationship is played out perfectly in this exchange. Granillo has a conscience and Brandon doesn’t. Granillo tries to gain the upper hand, they should simply leave the city now! He fails. They have murdered a popular school mate of theirs earlier in the day and his body is currently residing in the large teal trunk. Why? Brandon delivers a maniacal alibi worthy of a true-to-his-bones criminal.
We find that Brandon has arranged a dinner party to take place tonight, consisting of the victims parents, a former teacher, and two of their school mates. They will eat off of the trunk as opposed to the dinner table and discuss Brandon’s vast library collection. The perfect alibi. When the party is over, the two first time criminals will flee. According to Brandon, this is the perfect crime.The dinner party that ensues is hilariously awkward; everyone make assumptions as to why they are there, what the motive behind each invitation was and what, if anything, is hiding in that odd trunk? Rare books? Records? A murdered body?! Everyone drinks their fill of gin and ponders.
If you enjoy grisly murder mysteries, thrilling whodunnits, or any of Alfred Hitchcock’s work, you will enjoy this show. The relationships are expertly woven within the script, we don’t know much about these characters but we uncover just enough to make accurate assumptions. Granillo, beautifully played by Geoff Finney, is obviously tortured by the actions he has seen his partner make. He tries to keep it together and ends up drinking too much, maybe he was convinced to participate? Maybe he was shocked at his own reaction to something the two have been planning for months. Brandon, clearly a manipulative maniac and played just so by Jaryl Draper, is steadfast in believing that his actions are perfectly discreet and that his crime is that of a genius, himself. His former teacher Rupert Cadell, played by Chris Martinez, puts together a string of clues that no one catches onto and the game of whodunnit is afoot. Will Rupert catch the two red handed? Will Brandon and Granillo actually make their escape?
Get yourself to the new and improved Ballard Underground, treat yourself to a delicious drink (I preferred the Orange Blossom) and find out!