Review: Viewer turns gumshoe during Murder In Green Meadows

Thomas Devereaux (Erin Butler) confronts wife Joan (Jessie Mann) about what
Thomas Devereaux (Erin Butler) confronts wife Joan (Jessie Mann) about what's been swept under their rug during Murder In Green Meadows.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

We discovered whodunit.

The mystery was who else, why, and how to stop it.

Such was the viewer's job as detective in Shawnigan Players' canny, carnal caper Murder In Green Meadows.

Friday's show in the Queen Margaret's School's theatre was evidence of how a few good actors can keep us guessing about underlying motives in twisted criminal minds.

Meadows also reminded us about differences between moral misdemeanors, true crimes, and real justice.

It's tough to review Meadows without tipping readers to the guilty parties in this sparse, four-hander set in a present-day North American subdivision.

Think of the evil that lurked behind the seemingly normal door of Ontario's Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.

'They seemed so friendly; I had no idea' is often the statement by neighbours to reporters about various killers — if they're ever caught.

Meadows turns on the seeming friendship between The Symons and the Devereauxs.

Caroline Symons (Deanna Attwood) is a shy, intelligent housewife; husband Jeff (Nick Brown) is a handyman and PR executive.

Across the road live chatty Joan Devereaux (Jessie Mann), and hard-working husband Thomas (Erin Butler), developer of their tony subdivision.

Once acquainted, the booze flows

The barbecue is lit.

Recipes and handicraft help are swapped.

Golf clubs are swung.

But we come to share the Devereauxs' secret behind Thomas' cunning grin, and Joan's tasty lasagna.

Toss in a love triangle, plus clues buried in this listener's drama, and viewers become gumshoes following meandering mayhem.

Playwright Douglas Post's penetrating script is slightly reminiscent of an edgy fringe play, or a clever BBC cliffhanger.

The key was fine acting to deliver the tension under director/producer Maggie Sullivan, and her able stage crew — including set-builder Dan Johnston.

Blanks in the pistol, not sound effects, would have lent Meadows even more realism.

But like the lingering taste of fine java, we're left sifting lines, reasons and morals from this wicked little work fueled by abuse and deceit.

Murder In Green Meadows runs May 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., and May 11 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available at Ten Old Books, Mason's Store, and at the door. Follow the signs to QMS' theatre.

Murder-drama rating: 9 lies out of 10.

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