Presentation wows in production of ‘The Murder Room’

Briley Anderson

Hannah Jensen, Guest Reviewer

The Murder Room” is a play written by P. D. James and based on the novel by Jack Sharkey. The story takes place around the 1950s, in an unnamed English town. The director of the production, Alix Van Noy, has directed several other shows in the past, some of which include Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Seussical.” The Murder Room can pull any audience member into a world of British comedy and mysteries of love, with its unique set and incredible direction. 

This production of “The Murder Room” featured a doubled six-character cast, switching throughout the six performances. The play tells the story of a woman who murdered her husband. The storyline follows two officers, the dead man’s daughter, and the daughter’s fiancé, and the household maid as they try to uncover the mystery, while Mavis, the murderer of the story, tries to hinder the investigation.  

When it comes to the set of this low-budget play, it got quite a lot of comments. the director’s wife explained how some of the students would come in shocked, as they’ve never really had sets like that in the school. Not only is the set a step up from where it has been in the past, but she said that it was actually one of the simpler sets he’d done, despite all the hidden drawers and intricacies. 

The set featured high walls to frame the room, with several paintings and a sword for decoration. There was a staircase in the back, that flipped around and allowed the actors an exit the audience couldn’t see. The front door was placed stage right, with the window seat to the left of that, allowing a window where we could see anyone approaching the door. There was an arched doorway into the kitchen on stage left, and nestled next to that in the corner of upstage left was the sideboard, used for hiding the gun with the secret drawer. All in all, sofa, chair, and tea table included, the set was very faithful to the script, and allowed for everything the actors needed to play the parts. Including the bag attached to the back of the couch for the gun to be held for scene one.

The direction was impressive. The director’s wife said that when one of the actors wasn’t sure what to do during a scene, and they’d ask him what to do, he would tell them to think about what their character would do, and do that. That kind of direction gave the actors much more freedom and opportunity to express their talents, as well as making the whole performance seem more natural, as the actors found it easier to truly step into the roles of their characters. Both casts gave a phenomenal performance, each with their own unique interpretations of the characters. 

Highland’s production of The Murder Room was definitely worth watching, to anyone interested in theatre. With Van Noy’s unique directing style, the talents of the actors, and the incredible set design, it was a don’t-miss production.