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A Tangled Murder Misadventure

You’ll have to think outside the apartment to solve Bowie Community Theatre’s mystery

Bowie Community Theatre takes you through so many twists and turns in Murder by Misadventure that trying to keep up could be hazardous to your health.
    With only four characters and one the police inspector, the 50-50 chance of guessing the murderer could have killed the mystery before final curtain.
    It survives — though not all the characters do.
    British dramatist Edward Taylor’s 1992 thriller centers on the rising tension between television crime-writing partners Howard Kent (Jerry Gietka) and Paul Riggs (James McDaniel).
    Paul, a drunkard who’s the imaginative half of the duo, relies on Howard for his organized mind. Howard has had it with his partner’s sloppy personality. Paul manipulates his knowledge of an accounting issue in Howard’s past to keep the team together.
    Howard and wife Emma Kent (Lesley Miller) manage their problem by making Paul the victim of a crime drama they imagine, writing a murder into real life.

Up for Awards

Need more reasons to see this show?
    Bowie Community Theatre has just been nominated for nine Washington Area Theatre Community Honors —WATCH — awards for two plays in the 2011 season.

Grace and Glorie, which played last October, took four nominations, including one for each of the actors in a two-person show:
• Outstanding Direction: Estelle Miller
• Outstanding Lead Actress: Jo Black Sullivan as Glorie
• Outstanding Lead Actress: Sandra Cox True as Grace
• Outstanding Play

Sordid Lives, which played last February, earned five nominations, three for actors and two for the designers who supported them:
• Outstanding Featured Actor: Scott Beadle as Earl ‘Brother Boy’ Ingram
• Outstanding Featured Actress: Bernadette Arvidson as Juanita
• Outstanding Featured Actress: Joanne Bauer as Sissy Hickey
• Outstanding Hair Design: Scott Ross and Kaeti Bradley
• Outstanding Makeup Design: Scott Beadle

    Problem solved — until the police inspector (George Tamerlani) meets the couple on their return from a quick trip abroad. His arrival introduces three new plot elements: Paul’s old girlfriend, a haunted house and a vanishing body.
    All four characters act as if their lives depend on their performance.
    Jerry Gietka’s Howard carries the play. As the prime suspect, he’s careful to keep his character from appearing to know too much.
    James McDaniel’s Paul plays out surprises in keeping with the slippery nature of his character. But McDaniel’s accent ebbs and flows, occasionally breaking the trance created by other members of the cast.
    Lesley Miller plays the meek Mrs. Kent in her first performance with Bowie Community Theatre. Her British accent adds credibility to her character, and her expressions give volume to scenes when she has no lines.
    When George Tamerlani barges in as Inspector Egan, his levity and wit revive the mystery. But his speech flows so rapidly that some of his quips are missed.
    The setting — the Kents’ flat in Sussex, England — is satisfyingly believable. The main room extends to front door, hall, closet and balcony. The rich color, dark wooden furniture and white trim blend into the background when necessary and interact with the characters as a crime scene.
    Ominous classical music carries the audience from one scene to the next scene with anticipation.
    As lights dimmed to end each scene, I believed that my shrewd reading of the characters’ subtle clues had me ahead of the police inspector in finding the killer.
    I was wrong. The end of this drama is one you couldn’t see coming if you wrote it yourself.
    The trick to staying on top of the case is thinking outside of the box and outside of the apartment.
    Even forewarned, don’t count on solving the mystery behind this Murder by Misadventure.

    Directed by John Degnan. Set designed by Dan Lavanga. Costumed by Jane Lecher. Lighting designed by Garret Hyde.
    Playing thru January 28 at 8pm FSa; 2pm Su at Bowie Playhouse, White Marsh Park, Rt. 3, Bowie. $17: 301-805-0219;