"Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest
Indiana Repertory Theatre
Directed by Robert Moss
Through May 6
Did he do it? Or did she do it? While you may think you have figured out whodunnit in Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, you will second-guess yourself.
Set in 1950s Wales, Laura Warwick stands with gun in hand, her husband shot dead in his wheelchair, when Michael Starkwedder stumbles in from the fog in search of a telephone. While having possession of the murder weapon and a confession from Warwick may make it seem that the murder mystery has been solved before it’s barely begun, don’t be so sure.
The cast imbues each character with personality and culpability. Director Robert Moss and his exceptionally talented cast take the rather dry script and give it situational humor in the way a line is delivered, a blocking choice or even an exaggerated look over an actor’s shoulder.
The play does get draggy at times; but be patient, and another “unexpected” event or particularly nice delivery from a cast member will perk you up.
Characters include Starkwedder, played by John G. Preston, a generally likable bloke who takes charge of a situation, and Laura Warwick, played by Genevieve Elam, the overwrought possible murderess. These two get the most time in the spotlight. While not necessarily having “chemistry,” given the situation their underlying distance is OK. In the house are Miss Bennett (Michele Tauber), the severe and loyal secretary to the late Mr. Warwick; Jan Warwick (Robb Sapp in a particularly good performance), the mentally handicapped half-brother of Mr. Warwick; Mrs. Warwick (Kathleen Huber), mother to Mr. Warwick; and Henry Angell (Robert J. Johansen, in a role that is splendidly out of character for him), Mr. Warwick’s nurse; and, later on, the police (Ben Ayres and Richard Hoxie) and Julian Farrar (Anthony Marble).
The stage resembles Gaston’s parlor from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (“I use antlers in all of my decorating …”) thanks to Gerry Hiatt, owner of Lake and Lodge Outfitters, and adds to the overall creepy feeling of the show. Those glass eyes seem to be watching you.
The Unexpected Guest continues through May 6. Tickets begin at $34. For reservations, call the IRT, 140 W. Washington St., at 317-635-5252 or go to www.irtlive.com