|Photo copyright Act One, Too, Ltd.|
|Rachel Finch and Nicholas Leeman in The Hollow.|
Director Wendy Resch Novak and the cast of The Hollow at Theatre in the Round Players want to play a game -- and they're hoping the audience will play along.
The play is a murder-mystery by venerable author Agatha Christie, who knew quite a bit about keeping the readers -- and audience -- guessing until the very end. "The actors are on board with it," Novak says. "We are creating this game of how we are going to trick the audience into believing that some other character did the murder."
The play, adapted by Christie from her book of the same name, takes place at an isolated country estate where a foul murder has been done. In this case, it is the philandering Dr. John Cristow, while the guests include his wife and former mistress. The suspects are many, and there are clues and red herrings galore for the local police inspector to sort out before the final curtain. (The original book featured Hercule Poirot, but Christie left his "little grey cells" out of the stage version.)
The game is definitely aided by the author. "She really writes a mystery where the audience can play along with the rest of the cast to figure out whodunit. That's what really makes it fun for me," Novak says.
Another aid is the theater's physical space. Unlike a proscenium, the audience at TRP can closely observe all of the actors for the tiniest clues that they may be the murderer. Of course, the company is ready for that.
"You can throw the audience on the wrong trail and have them suspect the wrong person. It's a big game to throw the audience off track, and truly surprise them onstage," Novak says.
Novak and the 12-actor cast are working to provide a perfect early summer diversion.
"It's necessary to captivate [the audience] and take them away from their daily life. Economically, we aren't in the greatest times, so it's great if we can get people to actually lose themselves in a story in the dark theater for a few hours and engage in the thrill of trying to chase down a murderer," she says.
IF YOU GO:
Theatre in the Round
245 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
Friday through June 24
For information, call 612.333.3010 or visit online.
245 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis, MN