Strange happenings are afoot at Glancing Bright, a stately Victorian country house, home of Lady Constance Ashford (Rebecca Morse), a distressed and nearly helpless widow. Thankfully, there is Tomkins (Rick Warren) at her side, should she be stricken with The Vapors.
It’s Christmas Eve, 1885. Lady Ashford’s daughter Cynthia (Caralynn Shields) hopes to become engaged to Wayne Coverley (Riley Parham), whose fortune will save the estate. Wayne shows up with his entitled chum Sir Percy Wentworth (Hunter O’Harrow) and a very large gem–the Kashmir Sapphire–the family jewel with which he intends to win Cynthia’s heart.
This is the world premiere of The Christmas Case: A Lady Brass Mystery, written and directed by John Longenbaugh. It also marks the first Portland-area show from Battleground Productions, Longenbaugh’s new theatre company.
As our story continues, Lady Ashford’s sister Lady Madelyn Brass (Allison Anderson) joins the gathering, along with her daughter Gwendolyn Brass (Katherine Grant-Suttie). Both were thought to be dead, and are disguised as Germans.
Suddenly, the lights go out! And, Bob’s your uncle, the precious sapphire disappears!
What better time to launch a new theatre company than during the holiday season with a brand new holiday play? This one is a light and fun, with strong performances both from Anderson and Grant-Suttie. The two have tremendous fun with their German accents. We learn that Lady Brass is quite possibly the world’s greatest detective, and a good Tory despite the accent. Gwendolyn wears one of the more memorable wigs in my experience with live performance, and her bustle…well, you have to see it!
The lone socialist in the show is Father Christmas (Andy Mangels).
The play is strongly influenced by the board game Clue, and even more so by the mysteries of Agatha Christie, right down to “the drawing room speech” at the end of the second act.
The creative team includes Tyler Buswell, set designer; Christine Richardson, costume designer; Doug Martell, lighting designer; Corey McCarey, rehearsal stage manager; Alden Girsch, stage manager/board op; Milo Miller, assistant stage manager; Kylie Jenifer Rose, dialect coach; and Prof. D.C. Schreiber, magic consultant.
The Christmas Case runs through December 21 at Chapel Theatre, 4107 Harrison St. Milwaukie, OR 97222. Tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com