Monday, November 13, 2017

Review: ‘The Game’s Afoot’ is a hilarious show with Katrina Ferguson


Michael Iannucci and Katrina Ferguson in a scene from “The Game’s Afoot” at Ivoryton Playhouse in Essex. Connecticut (Photo by Anne Hudson)


“Ivoryton Playhouse is out with the first of a run of murder mystery-themed shows that are about to arrive, with an entertaining production of “Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot!” on stage at the playhouse through Nov. 19.

With the film “Murder on the Orient Express” opening in theaters this weekend and Hartford Stage gearing up its own production of “Orient Express” in the spring — coincidentally adapted from the novel by Ken Ludwig — Ivoryton’s “The Game’s Afoot” is a nice contrast since it is a lighter and pleasantly sillier bit of theater than its Agatha Christie cousin.

Perfectly themed for the region, “The Game’s Afoot” is set at Gillette Castle, which happens to be only a few miles away from the playhouse and would make a great combination day trip to East Haddam and Ivoryton.

Set on Christmas Eve 1936 — an historical error since it is said in the play that the house was finished only several months prior, when the house was actually completed in 1919, but that’s a small nitpick — the play follows the acclaimed actor and Sherlock Holmes portrayer William Gillette (Craig MacDonald) and his motley crew of house guests, each with secrets that are revealed about their relationships with each other, ultimately leading to the murder of one of them.

The second act follows Gillette as he tries to resolve the mayhem that ensues.

Daniel Nischan’s set is perfect and is the best set design of the year for the playhouse. The detail of the brick walls and the staircase in particular are splendid, and the rotating secret door is the site of several hilarious gags.

22853135_10156253846960628_4641391477109989706_nThe cast is mostly enjoyable too. MacDonald is great as the would-be Sherlock Holmes of the play — a part Gillette is a bit too eager to take due to his familiarity with the role.

Michael Iannucci and Katrina Ferguson make a formidable comedic team as Felix and Madge, a married couple who are friends and cast mates with Gillette.

The diminutive Maggie McGlone-Jennings is superb as Gillette’s mother, Martha, giving a surprisingly stalwart performance against the cast members that tower over her.

There are a few quibbles that I have with the play, mostly to do with the writing, but it is mostly something that comes with the nature of murder mysteries.”

Read the full review 

Ken Ludwig's The Game's Afoot!

Theater: Ivoryton Playhouse

Location: 103 Main St., Ivoryton section of Essex. Connecticut

Show times: Through Nov. 19. Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. Matinee: Wednesday and Sunday 2 p.m.

Tickets: $17 to $50. Available online at, by phone at 860-767-7318, or at the box office

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