The Official Newspaper of Mayfield High School

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‘The Butler Did It’ presents strong comedy, mystery

The+cast+celebrates+the+completion+of+one+of+their+three+performances.
The cast celebrates the completion of one of their three performances.

The cast celebrates the completion of one of their three performances.

Photo by Fiona Burnham

Photo by Fiona Burnham

The cast celebrates the completion of one of their three performances.

Fiona Burnham, Staff Writer

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“The Butler Did It” opened Nov. 10 in the Mayfield High School auditorium and had three weekend performances. The murder comedy (two words not often seen side by side) is a fast-paced thriller directed by Maryann Elder and based on the writings of English crime novelist Agatha Christie.

The play opens with Miss Maple in her elaborate mansion on Turkey Island, an estate off the coast of San Francisco, along with her ex-convict maid Haversham and the suspicious hag-box-carrying “social secretary” Rita.

One by one, the characters are introduced as they enter the stage, expecting no more than a weekend of detective-themed antics put on by their infamous hostess. The guests, all famous mystery authors, are expected to take on the persona of their main character for the weekend and follow clever clues such as an eerie tape and figurines that seem to have a mind of their own leading to a fake murder planted by the Miss Maple.

However, as they always do, things go awry and leave the hostess baffled when a real corpse is discovered. Miss Maple is outraged and hastily offers 25,000 dollars to whichever “detective” can find the murderer first. The guests oblige eagerly, assuming the murder is all just another clever stunt of Miss Maple’s.  When it becomes clear to the guests that the murder was not simply a stunt, they begin pointing fingers at one another, as well as at the flustered maid Haversham, a parolee whose crime is described as “some unpleasantries with a hatchet.”  

Thrills and giggles collide as the killer is exposed and, through loops and twists, nearly everyone is revealed as someone else, keeping audience members on the edge of their seat. The climax, while clever, happens at breakneck speed, leaving the audience slightly disoriented as the curtains close.

The production incorporates the necessary elements of mood and setting, but no more than absolutely necessary, leaving the audience with little to take away.

The play’s script was detailed and filled to the brim with delightful tongue-in-cheek humor, but somewhat hard to follow due to very low volume microphones and rapidly moving plot.  The characters themselves are static and shallow, though in such a way that is imperative to the development of the theme.

The use of these characters expand on the parody concept and poke fun at the tired stereotypes found in the personas that Miss Maple’s guests take on for the weekend.

The play produces no profound life lesson and exists solely for a bit of amusement-contrary to the English detective stories it mocks. Wherever the execution of the production may lack, the hilarity and light-hearted banter “The Butler Did It” certainly makes up for it.    

While the plot did seem rushed in some areas, the satirical, clever, and outright hilarious dialogue leads me to rate the play a solid 8/10.

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The Official Newspaper of Mayfield High School
‘The Butler Did It’ presents strong comedy, mystery