By Ann McCreary
The theater career of Jane Pappidas spans many years and includes many stages from New York to Twisp.
Pappidas is making her debut as a director with Murder by the Book, which opens at The Merc Playhouse on Friday (Oct. 10) for a three-weekend run.
“I’ve never directed a full production. I enjoy it very much. But it’s much more nerve wracking for me because it’s all on me,” Pappidas said.
“We call Murder By the Book a ‘witty thriller.’ But I think it is really a comedy with murderous overtones,” Pappidas said.
“There is a murder early on in the action,” and the rest of the play will keep the audience guessing, Pappidas said.
“Nothing is what it seems and nobody is who they seem,” she said.
The play was written and set in the 1980s, but Pappidas has chosen to set it in the 1930s and infuse it with a film-noir flavor. The story, she said, “has the qualities of the old Agatha Christie mysteries.”
The story is set in London and features five characters that exhibit their own “eccentric” personalities, Pappidas said.
Danbert Nobacon plays an author of thriller novels, Emily Doran is his estranged wife, Don Fitzpatrick is his publisher,
Laurelle Walsh is his secretary, and Michael Carmichael is a neighbor and amateur detective.
“What’s funny to me is the characters and the situations they get into,” Pappidas said. “The leading man and lady are separated but still have a strong attraction between them. It’s love/hate.”
The characters consume quite a bit of alcohol during the course of the play, Pappidas added. “This play is about murder and drinking,” she said.
Two of the cast members attempt to murder each other, and audience members should be aware that the play includes the sound of loud gunfire.
The dialogue is peppered with “crisp, witty exchanges [that] poke fun at marriage, money, mystery, and novelists,” according to The Merc’s description of the production.
Performances begin Friday and run through Oct. 26 with performances at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and matinees at 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for people under 18. A “pay- what-you-can performance” will be held Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.
Murder by the Book was written by Duncan Greenwood and Robert King. For more information, call 997-7529 or go to mercplayhouse.org.