By: Paulanne Simmons
August 30, 2020: One of the promising developments in the entertainment industry during the pandemic is the many creative ways companies have met the challenge of not having a live audience in a theater. Not least of these innovations is Live in Theater’s series of interactive Zoom experiences. The series uses Zoom technology to bring interactive theater into the homes of audiences. The first show in the series is Murder at River Crossing Book Club. created by Carlo D’Amore, Collin Blackard, Phoebe Dunn, Natalia Yandyganova; and written and directed by D’Amore.
In the small southern town, River Crossing, Ursula Fitzroy reigns supreme as the local socialite and the last descendent of the town’s wealthiest family. She’s also the founder of the town book club, which she governs with an iron hand. The drama begins after she is found dead in her home at the bottom of a staircase shortly after the book club has disbanded for the night. The evening had been contentious, with several arguments centering around the reading and enactment of Gone with the Wind.
This is a gothic setup anyone who’s read a Faulkner novel or watched The Vampire Diarieswill recognize immediately. The women are flirts or self-righteous spinsters. The men are liars, drunks and philanderers. And the Civil War is, of course, the War of Northern Aggression.
First Ricarda Pissum, MD (Phoebe Dunn) provides all the available information, including the police report (evidence includes two one-way tickets to Chicago found in a purse, a torn veil, and drugs and alcohol in the victim’s blood) and the list of suspects: Too Much Charlie (Collin Blackard); Thomas, Ursala’s husband and the town’s judge (Chris Enright); Mullet, the bartender (Lemond Hayes), Miss Tilsen, a teacher at the school the Fitzroys founded (Olivia Jimenez); and Abigail, Ursula’s best friend (Sarah Sutliff).
Once the ball starts rolling, it can end up in anyone’s park. The Zoom audience is grouped into different breakout rooms, where they will compete to discover who committed the dastardly act. Each of the suspects appears in the breakout rooms to be interviewed by the sleuths. Their protests of innocence and rectitude are carefully contrived to make every one of them seem guilty.
This requires actors who can both follow a script and improvise. I am happy to report that the night I participated these actors were more than up to the task. They were outrageous, funny and every one of them a possible murderer. What delicious fun.
Unfortunately, my group chose the wrong suspect. But that was only because my colleagues did not listen to my sound advice.
For more information visit liveintheater.com.