DEATH BY DESIGN
By Rob Urbanati
Richardson Theatre Centre
Assistant Director-Collin Miller
Set Designer-Frank Wyatt
Lighting Designer-Richard Stephens Jr.
Sound Design-Rachael Lindley and Richard Stephens Jr.
Set Decoration-Rachael Lindley
Light & Sound Board Operator-Wyatt Moore
Artistic Director-Rachael Lindley
Executive Producer-Lise Alexander
House Manager / Facebook-Leigh Wyatt Moore
CAST in order of appearance:
Edward Bennett-Richard Stephens, Jr.
Sorrel Bennett-Blair Taylor
Walter Pierce-Patrick Vincent
Victoria Van Roth-Elaine Erback
Alice- Brittain Monroe
Reviewed Performance: 3/19/2017
Reviewed by Dean Lindsay, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
There’s a Funny, Killer Show at the Richardson Theatre Center!! I love local theatre and the Richardson Theatre Center offers the finest around. RTC’s latest production, Death by Design is a solid, entertaining show, well-chosen and executed. Death by Design, by Rob Urbanati, is crafted as a “mash-up” of two of the world’s most popular playwrights, Noel Coward (Private Lives, Blithe Spirit) and Agatha Christie (The Mousetrap, Murder on the Nile). Think charming, biting wit mixed with a mysterious ‘Who Done It.’ And we know Who Done It! IT WAS director, Rachael Lindsey… IN the RTC … WITH this stellar cast! Lindsey has chosen and directed a thoroughly entertaining and talented ensemble that capitalizes on almost every nuance of Urbinati’s diverting, British murder mystery. The play is set in 1932 takes place in 1932 at the British country home of playwright Edward Bennett (Richard Stephens, Jr.) and his actress wife, Sorrel (Blair Taylor). The attractive and accurate costuming, music choice, and set, all set this scene extremely well. It’s an overly dramatic, ‘battle of witty wills’ type of marriage for Edward and Sorrel, and as the couple, actors, Stephens and Taylor, offer an energetic, natural chemistry which encourages a bunch of laughter. And both are keenly able to play up the overtly artistic and egocentric constructs of their characters. As the evening progresses an odd mix of guests arrive, seemingly unexpectedly – a fiery socialist (Gustavo Rodriquez), a conservative politician (Patrick Vincent), a seriously near-sighted ingénue (Brittain Monroe), a lovable loopy artist (Elaine Erback) – each with a long-held secret. When one of the guests is murdered, it’s left to Bridgett (Glynda Welch), the feisty Irish maid with an interest in homicide, and the clever and charming chauffeur, Jack (Hal Heath) to solve the crime.
The entire RTC cast rocks with an extra tip of the hat to Gustavo Rodriguez’s Eric. Mr. Rodriguez performance reminds me of a young Peter Sellers. Much laughter from the audience caused by Mr. Rodriguez performance. Mr. Rodriguez was also part of the acting team that pulled off one of the more subtle successful moments of the show, the moving of a ‘dead body’. Moving a dead body - that the audience knows is not really dead - often encourages a break in theatrical trust, but this moment of physical theater went without a hitch, with the actor (not Eric) playing dead weight like a pro with full trust that the other actors had him (or her) and they did. RTC’s Death by Design offers a murderous good time, go see it, it’s a killer show!!