Drama Club Murder Mystery Shows Review

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As the first year back in person comes to a close, Townsend Harris students have not failed to let their creativity shine, especially when it comes to theater. Despite the numerous obstacles, students managed to make productions such as S!NG and The Little Mermaid a smashing success. To wrap up the year, on May 27, the THHS Drama Club performed three original, captivating, and humorous short plays in their “Series of Murder Mysteries.”

Before the curtains opened, each show began with a song that highlighted the theme of the story. Drama Club member and junior Elyssa Lee gave a short, humorous introduction to transition into each performance. 

The first performance, “The Impastas,” opened to what appeared to be an office. Four characters could be identified, though one of them was dead. The three living characters were Linguini (sophomore Eliana Varkoutas), Ally (freshman Alisa Avduli), and Tony (freshman Joshua Chung), The plot was a little difficult to follow at first, but it could be assumed that the “boss” (junior Jesse Lawson) of the Gambino Mafia was dead and the remaining three were trying to figure out who killed him. The set was intricate and stage props such as the door were well used throughout the scene.  The main feedback that can be given for this performance would be to add more body language and movement to avoid keeping the characters in one position. However, the characters definitely could have spread out a little more across the stage throughout the scene and used the entirety of the space that they had. Nonetheless, the acting of the cast was outstanding. Linguini had just the right amount of emphasis and emotion with each line, as did Tony during the more comedic parts of the performance. 

In addition to the acting, there was a great amount of chemistry among all three characters, tying the scene together even more nicely. There was good diction from each of them, making it easy to follow along with the dialogue. Throughout the scene, there was a lot of yelling and finger pointing between the characters, adding to the comedic effect. In the end, Linguini and Ally realize they never did like the boss and exited happily, leaving a puzzled Tony and a completely contrasting emotional impression. Overall, the show was funny and very comprehensible, with splendid acting.

After a short music break, the curtains reopened and “A Mystery Smack in the Face” began. This show was centered around a murder mystery writer, who was getting married the next day and received a letter from an old friend, giving them the writer inspiration for their novel. The twist was that the writer’s friend had died an hour earlier. As the first and main character, Zarros Novad (senior Lisa Felson) took to the stage and left the audience immediately hooked. Zarros was dramatic and a little insane, as made evident by the wonderful acting. The quick shifts between tones in Zarros’ monologue started the show off humorously. Zarros also used the entire stage, and the amount of body language in a scene where a character is simply talking to themselves made it even more captivating. There was also a good use of props in the scene, and a really distinguishing factor was the use of a screen to broadcast the death of Daiki Bellatrix Aetos (sophomore Varune Seecharan). The show then went back and forth between the wedding and a police station. Officer 1 (freshman Alisa Avduli) and Officer 2 (freshman Noureen Islam) were interrogating Zarros in a classic “good cop, bad cop” scenario. It ended with a plot twist where Daiki appeared out of nowhere. The audience is left on a cliffhanger as Zarros questions how Daiki knew to send the inspiring letter at just the right moment. Daiki simply struts away, leaving a confused Zarros following them out. 

Throughout the entire performance, the actors’ lines were very audible and there was strong acting on most ends. While some of the chemistry among characters seemed to be lacking, the comediclines made up for it. The transitions between scenes could definitely have been smoother. However, the show itself was both very well written and very well performed. 

As “The Greatest Show” by Panic at the Disco came to an end, the curtains opened for the final time. The third show is titled “Evil Under the Tent,” specifically a circus tent. This show was about the death of a lion tamer (senior Adam Tully) during the circus. Though it didn’t seem like murder at first, a detective (freshman Katie Chan) was called to investigate with the cop (freshman Jasmyn Pillay). Members of the circus were interviewed, including the ringmaster (senior Lynda Irizarry), acrobat Varkessa (freshman AJ Botsaris), strong-man Brint (freshman Joshua Chung), juggler Geráld (Mr. Kevin Schwab), and the clown Carb (freshman Joseph Moreira). The detective and cop went on a wild chase to catch the killer, eventually arresting the clown. However, there was a shocking twist: the ringmaster and juggler had been the culprits all along, cleverly fooling the authorities. 

Of the three, this show was certainly the most mysterious. When watching, one genuinely could not tell how it would end. The writing of the show was both funny and hooking, keeping viewers entertained and focused. Furthermore, the acting from each character was full of passion and personality, especially from the acrobat, clown, and ringmaster. Each character put emphasis on their lines and added a great deal of emotion to their tones to distinguish their characters. For instance, the clown did an incredible job of putting an angry and chaotic tone behind their voice and using dramatic motions to represent a colorful character. Along with the acting, the chemistry between some of the pairs in the show was very noticeable. The most significant would be the detective and cop, who executed the “good cop, bad cop” stereotype in a witty manner. There was also a certain chemistry between the ringmaster and juggler which made the ending of the show even more noteworthy. The two played off one another well and the way they ended the show with a cackle was certainly phenomenal. 

Drama Club certainly did not disappoint the audience. Each performance was unique and creative, from the writing to the acting to the set design. The fact that the entire show was student orchestrated demonstrates that THHS is indeed made up of brilliantly artistic minds.

Photo courtesy of Elyssa Lee