BWW Review: THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS at the Lonny Chapman Theatre
The time is 1947. The place, England. Politics abound with the murder of an heir to a foreign throne, hunting a jewel thief. At the Chimneys Estate we find in residence Lord Caterham (Lloyd Pedersen), friend Lottie Lomax (Michelle Schultz), and visitor Virginia Revel (Stasha Surdyke), highly suspect...as is Cade (Lee Grober) who seems to be in love with Virginia. On the surface he's investigating a blackmail against her for scripting some mysterious letters.
Also on board in this cast of eleven are Superintendent Battle (Daniel Lench), Treadwell (Michele Bernath), Herman Banks (Bruce Nehlsen), Lady Eileen "Bundle" Brent (Gabrielle Sigrist), Bill Eversleigh (Dave Buzzotta) and Monsieur Lemoine (Todd Andrew Ball), the supposed French investigator. Doug Haverty essays a variety of roles.
What is right with the play? It's a lost Agatha Christie mystery. What is wrong with it? Just about everything. The plot is too contrived and uninteresting. One of the inspectors talks about "routine". This pretty much describes the whole play...talky and dull. It lacks a central character like Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple who may lend humor and eccentricity to the storyline. There are many eccentrics among the crowd, but they don't fit together well or provide enough appeal.
There is fine direction from Jules Aaron who moves a large cast about the stage with the greatest of ease, or so it seems. The fine cast boasts standouts from Surdyke, Ball, Schultz and Haverty, quite amusing as a foreign valet.
It's easy to understand why the play got lost. Maybe it should stay that way. Great set from Chris Winfield; nifty period costumes from Angela M. Eads.