This is one of a series of detective farces by playwright Pat Cook, featuring the misadventures of Harry Monday, who might be called a 'soft-boiled' detective. Monday, played in this outing by Scott Fudali is a good-natured character who knows he's not a very good detective, but is happy to take people's money and do what he can.
The action of "Monday Always Leads to Murder" cleverly takes place entirely in "Harry Monday's dingy office," which had been the scene of an unsolved multiple murder twenty years before. The old mystery is reopened when Courtney Delecroix (Patty Ehlers Peterson), played as a classic noir detective femme fatale, hires Monday to find an ancient artifact, missing since the murders.
The investigation brings other suspicious characters to Monday's office, including a theatre producer suddenly interested in Monday's talentless memoires (Erin Walton), the local museum antiquities curator (Paul Fischer), and a woman who shows up in order to ask Monday's help, only to be repeatedly dragged away by the police (Lillian Sullivan). There's also Monday's cronies: Pawnbroker Sol Johar (Scott Dyer), irascible policeman Brogan (Ben Dern), and building janitor "Pop" (Scott Stenstrup), all of whom get involved in the plot.
Fudali as Monday keeps smiling and takes a low-keyed approach, commenting wryly on the action as the other characters chew the scenery. As Director Mary Beth Topf noted in the program, everyone had fun rehearsing the show, and that was evident on the stage. Everyone did a good job of putting the characters accross and making the action of the play cler and coherent (or, as coherent as a farce can be--). Characterization was uniformly good, with some impressively consistent accent work by Walton (Russian), Dyer ("Noo Yawk"), and Dern (Irish cop). Timing was tight, and stage business clever and funny, which is much that a play of this type needs.
The script is far from deathless prose, but is light and witty, and plays with the conventions of the hard-boiled detective spoof (by now, a genre in itself) in a fairly fresh fashion. We laughed and nudged one another quite a bit, and enjoyed our evening at the theatre.
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