Newly deceased Vale (John C. Davis) asks the afterlife Admin (Charlie MaGhee Hughes) questions about the mysteries of life in “A Game of Twenty.” Photo courtesy of Bonnie Gifford

Bonnie Gifford
Contributing Writer

This is the third of a five part series about Opera House PlayFest 2018, this year’s production by the Pocahontas County Drama Workshop

If you were given the chance to have questions definitively answered about the long-standing mysteries of the world and universe, what would you ask? 

The 2018 Opera House PlayFest will present just that scenario in a short play called A Game of Twenty… by actor, playwright and PlayFest director Eric Fritzius.

Fritzius comes by questions of the mysterious naturally, having grown up a fan of cryptid creatures, conspiracies and the paranormal.  

“I have an abiding love for such mysteries as Bigfoot, the Mothman, the Roswell incident of UFO lore, and especially the Loch Ness Monster,” Fritzius explained. “Ever since my dad showed me some blurry underwater photos that were taken in the ‘70s of something in the loch – a flipper, maybe? – I’ve been on board with Loch Ness.  That fascination has led me to many other mysteries along the way.” The mysteries also led to him becoming a fan of the recently deceased paranormal radio host, Art Bell.

The trouble with some of these mysteries, he said, is that despite humanity’s attempts to solve them over the decades and centuries, no one’s ever quite cracked them in a satisfying and definitive way.  He said he feared that his favorites would not be solved during his lifetime and this thought actually gave him the idea for “A Game of Twenty…” If you couldn’t have answers to such mysteries during life, the only remaining place to get them would be the afterlife.

Jack Vale, the mystery-loving main character of “A Game of Twenty…,” is newly deceased and finds himself in a waiting room of afterlife processing.  A tired Admin promises all of his life’s questions will eventually be answered, but they’re running a little behind. For the moment, she only has time to answer 20 of them, to tide him over while he waits.  The answers Vale receives, however, are not always quite what he expected.

Vale is played by John C. Davis. While in college Davis performed in Dear Delinquent, Matchmaker, Girls in 509, and Separate Tables.  He participated in Maryland Community Theatre including directing Blythe Spirit and Goodbye Charlie. He has appeared in nine previous Pocahontas County Drama Workshop productions, most recently in …to a Flame, also by Eric Fritzius, for the 2016 PlayFest.  That play, which was about West Virginia’s own Mothman mystery, serves as a sibling story to A Game of Twenty… and both feature references to Fritzius’ own version of Art Bell, a fictional radio host named Rik Winston.

Charlie MaGhee Hughes will play the role of the Admin.  Hughes has extensive experience in theatre productions. She appeared as Ruth in the 2017 Drama Workshop production of The People at the Edge of Town by A.J. De-Lauder,  and Millie in The Ghost of The Opera House by Arla Ralston. She will also be performing the role of Melanie in the PlayFest production of Petting Zoo Story by Jason Half.

The Opera House PlayFest 2018 will include five other short plays, including comedy, drama and often mixtures of both.  The festival will be performed at the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, beginning at 8 p.m. each evening.  There will be a free preview performance on Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m.

Parents should be aware that some of the plays contain adult themes that may not be suitable for young children.

The Pocahontas County Drama Workshop is a community theatre supported by Dramas, Fairs and Festivals, Parks and Recreation and the Pocahontas County Board of Education.

Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door.