Spider's Web at Coach House artfully woven tale of intrigue

by April Helms | Special Products Editor Published:

An evening of socializing and golf takes a dark turn after a body turns up in the drawing room of the host, in Agatha Christie's "Spider's Web," now on stage at Coach House Theatre in Akron.

Coach House has had a tradition of staging one Agatha Christie mystery every season, and this one won't disappoint mystery fans. The cast is excellent and the pacing is on target. Also, the storyline and setup is not typical of most Christie tales.

"This is a little lighter," said Andrew Cruse, who directs. "The humor is almost farcical at times. We tried to find a balance between the mystery and the farcical elements. When Nancy [Cates, co-artistic director] showed me the script, and I saw it opens with two men in a contest drinking port, I told her I knew this was a script I could get behind," he added and laughed.

What also makes this play different is the audience is concentrating not just on the whodunit (and I for one was completely off), but on how the guests and occupants of the house will deflect the questions of the police and avoid a scandal.

Sir Rowland Delahaye (Timothy H. Champion), Hugo Birch (Mark Stoffer) and Jeremy Warrender (Derrick Winger) are meeting in the home of Henry Hailsham Brown (Henry Bishop) and his young wife Clarissa (Kyra Kelley). Henry is away on business, so the imaginative Clarissa plays hostess. The evening takes a dark turn with the appearance of Oliver Costello (Dane Lee performs in some shows, Cruse on Feb. 7 through 9), the current husband of Henry's first wife, who threatens to take Clarissa's stepdaughter Pippa (Snezana Jelic) away.

The night gets stranger after Clarissa finds a dead body in the drawing room. She has every reason to keep this information from the police, but that becomes difficult when Inspector Lord (Richard Worswick) and Constable Jones (Michael James) show up, saying their received a phone call about a murder at the residence. Clarissa's penchant for telling tales, which exasperates her husband and friends, might wind up being the thing that saves everyone.

Also in the cast are Karen L. Wood as gardener Mildred Peake, and Michael Cranston as the butler Elgin.

Ticket and show information

"Spider's Web" can be seen through Feb. 16.

Curtain times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Dinner or brunch is available to all theatre patrons prior to every performance, at the Akron Woman's City Club next door.

Tickets are $15 on Thursdays, $20 for other days. Students are $12 for all shows. Call 330-434-7741, or visit www.coachhousetheatre.com for details or to make reservations.

Coach House Theatre is at 732 W. Exchange St. in Akron, next to the Akron Woman's City Club, and at the corner of West Exchange and North Portage Path.

Next on stage

Coach House will net produce "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams March 20 through April 6.

The theater also will stage readings of two short comedies, "Swan Song" by Anton Chekhov, and "How He Lied to Her Husband" by George Bernard Shaw, on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. The readings are free but reservations are required.

Fundraising gala

Coach House will have its gala, An Evening in Paris, on March 1 at the Akron Women's City Club. Call the theater or 330-864-7007 for details.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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