(Cover Photo: Pamela Lambert as "Madge Geisel," Peter Mill as "Inspector Goring," Remo Airaldi as "Felix Geisel" and Kelby T. Akin as 'William Gillette" in a scene from Ken Ludwig's "THE GAMES AFOOT: HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS" playing at the Lyric Stage in Boston, MA. until December 17, 2023. Photo Credit Mark S. Howard)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
“Oh stop blathering, Willie. He can be so irritating. Especially since he got shot - he's so proud of it."
- ("Martha") / Ken Ludwig
Written by Ken Ludwig
Director Fred Sullivan Jr.°
Cast Includes: Remo Airaldi* as "Felix Geisel"; Kelby T. Akin* as "William Gillette" Dan Garcia as "Simon Bright" Maureen Keiller* as "Daria Chase"; Pamela Lambert* as "Madge Geisel" Gabrielle McCauley as "Aggie Wheeler"; Peter Mill* as "Inspector Goring" Sarah Sinclair* as "Martha Gillette."
Additional Creative Team:
Scenic Design - Janie E. Howland**; Lighting Design - John Malinowski; Costume Design - Chelsea Kerl; Sound Designer - Andrew Duncan Will; Props Artisan - Jennifer Butler; Production Stage Manager - Nerys Powell*; Assistant Stage Manager (Rehearsal) - Charlie Berry*; Assistant Stage Manager (Performance) - Hazel J. Peters.
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
** Represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 of the IATSE
° Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
‡ Represented by the American Federation of Musicians local 9-535.
November 10, 2023 through December 17, 2023
(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)
THE LYRIC STAGE OF BOSTON, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA 02116
Contact the Box Office at # 617-585-5678 or go to lyricstage.com
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Lyric Stage Company serves up the hilarious play, "THE GAME'S AFOOT: HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS" which is part Halloween mystery and part Christmas holiday fun...as long as one considers murder on Christmas Eve "holiday fun."
Written by Ken Ludwig, who also wrote "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Moon Over Buffalo," "GAME'S AFOOT" features a terrific cast of eccentric characters and, between the show's two acts, the cleverly constructed plot moves from murder mystery to preposterous farce.
The play, which made its debut in 2011 at the Allen Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio, would go on to win the Edgar Allen Poe Award (aka the "Edgar") from the Mystery Writers of America as the "Best Mystery Play" in 2012.
The story starts off just before the holidays - with brilliant actor-inventor William Gillette (Kelby T. Akin) in performance as the one-and-only "Sherlock Holmes" along with his repertory cast performing one of Gillette's very own stage adaptations of the legendary detective's adventures.
Akin is keenly in sync at playing the over-the-top nature of the eccentric Gillette, both in and out of his full-on "Sherlock Holmes"-mode. He also possesses impeccable comedic timing, as does every member of this ensemble cast.
At the end of the performance, as Gillette is speaking with the audience, someone seemingly attempts to kill Gillette by shooting him.
As Gillette recuperates from his wound at his mansion, we are introduced to his sweet, elderly mother, Martha (Sarah Sinclair).
Sinclair proves quite endearing as William's whimsical, mischievous mom.
Arriving at the elegant home are fellow thespians Felix and Madge Geisel (Remo Airaldi and Pamela Lambert), Simon Bright (Dan Garcia) and Aggie Wheeler (Gabrielle McCauley).
There is a real sense of a camaraderie between the members of Gillette's troupe thanks to the genuine camaraderie seen in the collective performances given by Airaldi, Lambert, Garcia and McCauley.
Also invited to the party by Gillette, unbeknownst to the gathering, is foul-tempered theatre critic Daria Chase (Maureen Keiller) who immediately begins hurling insult after insult at everyone at the party, including William's mother.
Keiller seemingly fills the entire stage with her bottomless caustic wit as she throws jab after insult jab at the troupe. A deliciously wicked performance by Keiller yielding some of the show's funniest moments.
(Photo: Maureen Keiller as "Daria Chase" along with the CAST of the Ken Ludwig comedy, "THE GAMES AFOOT: HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS" playing at the Lyric Stage in Boston, MA. until December 17, 2023. Photo Credit Mark S. Howard)
Gillette advises the company that he has actually invited Daria to serve as a medium to help him solve the mystery of who shot at him during the show.
The murky mystical attempt produces disastrous results and ultimately, someone winds up dead.
Yes, death at Christmas - Happy Holidays, everybody!
The comedy might become a tad "dark," at times, but it is scathingly funny throughout, as well.
As the search for the killer(s?) among them ensues, we then are introduced to the manic, quick-witted Inspector Goring (Peter Mill).
Goring, an actual detective, becomes instantly frazzled, mostly at odds with Gillette who moves back into that aforementioned full-on "Sherlock Holmes"-mode (complete with traveling cloak and curved briar pipe), attempting to take complete charge of the investigation.
Mill is utterly smashing, owning the stage from the moment Goring appears.
(Photo: Pamela Lambert as "Madge Geisel," Peter Mill as "Inspector Goring," Remo Airaldi as "Felix Geisel" and Kelby T. Akin as 'William Gillette" in a scene from Ken Ludwig's "THE GAMES AFOOT: HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS" playing at the Lyric Stage in Boston, MA. until December 17, 2023. Photo Credit Mark S. Howard)
There is a lot of physical humor required from the Ludwig script and, under the capable direction of Fred Sullivan Jr., it all comes off without a hitch.
The single set used for the production is an ingenious design and all the lighting and sound cues are executed with pinpoint accuracy.
Above all else, "THE GAME'S AFOOT: HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS" which is completely wacky, absurdist farcical fun with a multitude of characters we find ourselves embracing....even one (or more) who may not be exactly as what they appear.
The show plays at the Lyric Stage until December 17th and, to miss out on seeing this hysterical comedy, just might prove to be a "fatal" mistake (cue evil laughter)...okay, maybe not "fatal" but it would be really, really bad.
Approximately two hours with one intermission
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
ABOUT THE SHOW
A laugh-out-loud comedy mystery that makes a memorable multigenerational holiday outing for everyone.
It’s a blustery December night in 1936 at the Connecticut mansion of actor William Gillette whose life was recently threatened by a rogue gunshot while he was onstage performing his most celebrated role, Sherlock Holmes.
A cavalcade of quirky friends arrive upon his request for a weekend of revelry all with the intent of finding out who pulled the trigger.
But when one of Gillette’s glitzy and glamorous guests is stabbed to death, the survivors are trapped inside a fun house of hidden passageways and trick mirrors where any of them could be the killer.
From the team that brought you "The Play That Goes Wrong," slapstick and hilarity ensues amid the murder and mayhem that will keep you laughing and guessing until the moment the killer is revealed.
Founded in 1974 and in residence at 140 Clarendon Street since 1991, THE LYRIC STAGE OF BOSTON is Boston’s oldest resident theatre company. Our mission is to produce and present live theatre in Greater Boston with an intimate approach that promotes inclusivity and connection. THE LYRIC STAGE leads an effort to integrate live theater and theater education into the lives of all residents of greater Boston.
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA. 02116
BOX OFFICE: 617-585-5678