Night and Day: Wednesday, February 20, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Killing Me Softly

Agatha Christie set the mold for the English murder mystery — large, tony, secluded location; victim hideous enough to have many enemies; limited number of colorful and mostly wealthy suspects; detective who gets in everyone’s business and susses out the killer. In addition to writing dozens of novels, she also adapted some of her stories into long-running plays that inspired countless imitators. The form is so well set that there’s now a rich tradition of takeoffs on it. Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound had the murder spilling offstage and involving the drama critics watching the mystery. Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park used the form to comment on another favorite British subject, class differences. For a 1976 film called Murder by Death, screenwriter Neil Simon gathered together Charlie Chan, Miss Marple, Sam Spade, and Nick and Nora Charles, manqués as suspects. Most recently, François Ozon’s film 8 Women turned the mystery into a weightless Technicolor musical.

Something similar happens with James MacDonald, David Vos, and Robert Gerlach’s musical Something’s Afoot, which takes place in the mansion of a Lord Dudley Rancour in the 1930s. The songs mimic Cole Porter and various other musical styles of the time. You can judge where it falls on the spectrum of the above works and how it stands up in relation to the more famous Broadway musical murder, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The play runs this weekend at UTA.

Something’s Afoot runs thru Sun at UTA, Fine Arts Bldg, 700 W 2nd St, Arlington. Tickets are $5-8. Call 817-272-2669.


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