It was a dark and stormy night. Well, at least it was last week in the Pocahontas County Opera House Murder Mystery Theatre production of “Murder at Marlinton Abbey,” an interactive murder mystery fundraiser for the opera house.
The show – written and directed by Arla Ralston – was set in the English countryside at Marlinton Abbey, a castle that was home to the Marlins. When the patriarch passes away, the castle is left to Marvin Marlin (Jesse Groseclose) a good ol’ country boy who is quite content in his home in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.
Marvin and his new bride, Myrna, (Brynn Kusic) travel across the pond – or puddle – as Marvin calls it, to meet his new-found “kin” and see the castle for himself. Myrna is excited to have the life she always wanted to live – the rich life with parties and finery, but Marvin is happy to sell the castle and land before returning to his home among the hills.
An interesting cast of characters meet at the castle, and each has a reason to be dissatisfied with the turn of events, and they are not too pleased to meet Marvin, although they keep their disdain, for the most part, hidden.
Duchess of Durbinshire (Ruth Taylor) and her son, the Duke (Thomas Clevenger), are some of Marvins relatives who believe they deserve to inherit the castle and Greenbank Acres forest. Marvin’s cousin, Mary, (Kristen Beverage), and her beau, the pleasant, but poor, vicar Woodrow (Nathan Dameron), are also against the sale of the land and home.
Then there’s the help.
Boris the trusted butler (Brian Cannon) and Martha White, the cook (Blair Campbell), both of whom vowed allegiance to the Marlin family, but are not ready to leave the grounds.
All eight characters come together for a lovely dinner of pheasant, featuring West Virginia ramps, which only the vicar tries, and a large dollop of ketchup for Marvin.
As Marvin stands to deliver a toast and to reveal his plans for Greenbank Acres, he suffers a coughing fit and succumbs to death – by poison.
At this point, the mystery was turned over to the crowd to identify the guilty party.
Supplied with the police report and time to question each of the characters, the crowd honed in on the culprit.
Was it Myrna, the newly widowed social climber who never wanted to return to her humble beginnings in Pocahontas County?
Was it Mary, the cousin who grew up in the castle and didn’t know a life other than that of a wealthy maiden?
Or could it be her fiancé, the vicar Woodrow, who loved the forest and the trees and wildlife as much as he loved Mary?
Was it the Duke, who had a gambling addiction and expensive tastes when it came to his wardrobe?
Or his mother, the Duchess, who was always there to bail out the Duke when he got into debt?
How about Boris, the butler? Could he have taken out the new owner of the castle to show his loyalty to his former employer?
Maybe it was the cook? Did Martha White have it in her to kill the man who inherited her boss/lover’s home?
As the crowd contemplated the motives for all seven suspects, a scream sliced through the hum of conversation, emergency lights flashed, and Martha White was wheeled away with a sword in her chest.
Now, with six suspects and two victims, there was more at stake. The dysfunctional group turned to a psychic (Leslie McLaughlin) and her trusty crystal ball to find answers.
Even if they didn’t guess correctly, those in attendance still had an enjoyable evening of entertainment and a delicious meal prepared by Rayetta’s Lunchbox with dessert by Harriet’s Catering.
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