The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title The Game's Afoot
Organization Sutter Street Theatre
Date(s) of show April 26 - May 25, 2014
Reviewer Gerry Camp

As the lights go up on Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” at the Sutter Street Theatre, we see Sherlock Holmes, recognizable by his trademark deerstalker hat, and a man in black who is soon identified as Holmes’s arch enemy Moriarty pointing a gun at him. Holmes is unarmed as Moriarty has stolen his gun. Moriarty attempts to kill Holmes, but Holmes has previously removed the bullets from the gun. Foiled, Moriarty leaps to his death out a three story window.

We are witnessing the climax of a play within a play, but as the actors take their curtain calls another shot rings out and the star falls to the ground.

Two weeks later, the actor William Gillette (played to egotistical perfection by John Haine), who was playing Holmes, is recovering in his palatial castle, built with the money he has earned playing Sherlock Holmes for fifteen years on Broadway. It is Christmas Eve and Gillette is hosting a party for his fellow cast members. A fierce blizzard rages outside, so no one will be leaving.

The party, we learn, is a subterfuge for Gillette’s intent to uncover his attempted murderer. (Throughout the play various characters need to remind him he is not really Sherlock Holmes.)  The cast is all there, Felix (Jason Titus) who played Moriarty, is present with his wife Madge (Laura Luke). Simon Bright (Anthony Raddigan), the male romantic lead accompanies actress Aggie Wheeler (Heather Warren) whom he has recently married following the tragic death of her first husband, who has left her his huge fortune.

Another guest arrives later, the glamorous theater critic Daria Chase, performed with total venom by Jody Wills. Daria has, in the past, written vicious reviews of all the actors in attendance. In addition to being a critic, Daria, it turns out, is also a medium, and Gillette has arranged for her to conduct a fake séance as a way of uncovering his assailant.

The other person present for the party is Gillette’s dotty old mother Martha, played hilariously by Sutter Street newcomer Shara Lynn Kelsey.

The fake séance does not have its desired effect, but Holmes (rather Gillette) is faced with two more murders to solve. It seems the doorman at the theater has earlier that day had his throat slit, and at the end of Act l an additional murder takes place among the guests at the sealed-off castle.

In Act Two help arrives for Holmes/Gillette in the person of Inspector Goring, a tweedy policewoman with aspirations to be an actor herself. Played by Karen Sandoval, Inspector Goring, like the other party guests who are already actors, launches into speeches from Shakespeare at every opportunity.

Will the murders (turns out there are actually three) and the attempted murder be solved? You probably already know the answer, but the culprit will certainly not be revealed here, and the plot twists and turns and the usual red herrings, and some hilarious slapstick, will keep you guessing until the end.  For the answer, and a totally delightful evening of murder and comedy, take yourself to “The Game’s Afoot,” ably directed by Warren Harrison, weekends in May at Folsom’s Sutter Street Theatre.

 Reviews Home    Organizations    Shows