Friday, January 24, 2014

Millbrook: "Frankly Scarlett, You're Dead"

Gone With the Wind meets Clue...the Millbrook Community Theatre is currently showing a spoof murder-mystery dinner theatre presentation of James Daab's Frankly Scarlett, You're Dead.

Coming off a successful run on the Harriott II riverboat last Fall, director Pamela Trammell's production has a rotating cast of actors who interact with the audience, help serve dinner catered by Wagon Wheel II restaurant, and encourage our participation in the on-stage antics, even offering prizes to those who solve the murder by answering the questions: "Who Dun It?", "Where?", and "With What?"

Col. Simpson [Roger Humber] has invited "us" to a cotillion at his Sassafras Plantation to find eligible bachelors so he can marry off his daughters: Scarlett [April Sexton], the avowed beauty and true Southern belle, and Melody [Tracey Quates], a wily and impish coquette.

It is 1861 [despite several anachronistic bits of dialogue], as the Civil War encroaches, and most able-bodied young men have dutifully signed up to fight in the War; so the only ones left in town are the dim-witted Pinkney brothers -- Montgomery (called Mojo) [Sean Wallace] and Montague (called Buddy) [Ryan Dow] -- neither of whom is a suitable beau. -- Along comes dapper Brett Rutgers [Jody Dow], a self-described "businessman" whose reputation as a gambler precedes him, and who may or may not be the dreaded Yankee spy who is feared to be nearby.

The Pinkneys will do most anything to marry the girls and secure a dowry, and the Colonel doesn't appear too particular about potential husbands for his daughters; and while the girls vie for the affections of Brett, the mad-cap goings-on build to convoluted discoveries, sexual innuendo, red-herrings galore, and lots of circumstantial evidence -- as they say, "the plot thickens" in unabashed melodramatic manner.

Audiences are tickled by the intentionally unsubtle references to Gone With the Wind and the tongue-in-cheek performances by the ensemble cast who occasionally ad lib their remarks directly to audience members.

The entire play -- with strategic breaks for a three-course dinner -- takes only 90 minutes, but needs a faster pace and commitment to broader characterizations in order to make the most of the play's comic possibilities. But, on a cold winter's weekend, Frankly Scarlett, You're Dead warms us up with laughter and good-humored fun.