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Clueless characters key to Players' comic mystery PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Friday, 07 December 2012 11:33
Cast of the Black Swamp Players’ “A Little Murder Never Hurt Anyone” includes (from left)  Anderson Lee, Emily Waters, Jason Wells-Jensen, Guy Zimmerman and Peggy Keyes. Not in photo, Bill Perry. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
"A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody" is indeed a holiday show. It'd have to be given when the Black Swamp Players are staging it.
But with that title how could it? That's this loopy comedy's first mystery.
Well, it begins and ends on New Year's Eve, following this cast of endearingly cartoonish characters through a year of death and hilarity.
The Ron Bernas script directed by Leroy Morgan opens tonight at 8 and runs for two weekends at First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. The tone is set in the first scene with an exchange between the unflappable butler Buttram (Bill Perry) and his highly flappable employer Matthew Perry (Guy Zimmerman).
When it comes time for Matthew and his Julia (Peggy Keyes) to  announce their New Year's resolutions - she pledges to read "Doctor Zhivago" - he prefaces his own with a long story. It seems a recently widowed friend has been having the time of his life since his wife "Witch Hazel" died in a freak accident. Matthew feels deprived, so he announces that he resolves to kill off his wife in the next 12 months.
Keyes and Zimmerman have already pinned their characters down so well that this absurdity is accepted as  part of the strange universe the play sets up. His wife's response is to laugh. She doesn't think he'll be able to pull it off.
So off-stage mayhem ensues starting with the dog Fifi's demise apparently caused by a poisoned plate of pate.
Tossed into the mix is the couple's daughter Bunny (Emily Waters) who after a fit of cluelessness becomes engaged to her earnest, stolid boyfriend Donald Baxter (Anderson Lee).
Bunny is all body, no brain. No mystery here what Donald's attraction to her is even if he's a little less lusty than she is. Waters is a knockout, and she shows theatrical intelligence in playing her dim-witted character. She doesn't play her as an over the top bimbo, but just speaks as if she's unaware how much she's missing.
As people keep dying around her and mucking up her wedding preparations, she wonders if "the gods are perspiring against us."
It's both funny and endearing. Donald's patience with her makes their relationship believable aspects in this absurd world.
Bunny is especially confused by the detective Plotnik (Jason Wells-Jensen) who arrives on the scene to investigate all the deaths that have occurred around the Perry household. When he calls her "sister," she turns to her fiance and asks with alarm whether she is related to him.
Plotnik has watched and read far too much bad detective fiction, and speaks in a hard-boiled patois that frankly confuses everyone.
Wells-Jensen, who has played a few detectives in his time with the Players, knows this territory well. He articulates the most convoluted turns of slang with aplomb as if this is the way he speaks.
For his part, Perry's Buttram is a much-put-upon pillar of sanity, taciturn, with a passive aggressive streak and, of course, a back story.
The way it all comes together satirizes how mysteries manage to tie up all the loose ends, just in time for another New Year to begin. "A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody" is something for Players fans to celebrate.

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