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Who done it?

Murder mysteries come to Linden Ponds

Created date

June 19th, 2012

Back-to-back murder mysteries unfolded at Linden Ponds this spring, captivating audiences of the Linden Ponds Players latest production. Smartly written and performed, the plays resolved both cases and validated an acting troop beginning its sixth year together. Bringing murder mysteries to the Linden Ponds performing arts center for the first time, artistic director Frances Galton, who lives at the Erickson Living community in Hingham, Mass., kept audiences guessing. Two casts of eight actors brought Agatha Christie s The Patient and Frances Galton s own The Amnesiac to life, while in each case solving a questionable or near-realized death.

Parallel plots

Before a large-scale projected background image, a row of chairs and a desk became a private room in a nursing home, the scene ofThe Patient, and a police captain s office inThe Amnesiac. Parallels between the two stories stretched further. InThe Patient, Brad Seager commanded attention as Doctor Ginsberg, the man charged with caring for Jenny Wingfield, the seemingly paralyzed victim of a fall from a building. InThe Amnesiac, Brad played Captain Benton, a police captain charged with identifying a teen runaway recently discovered in a state of confusion. About 300 people saw the performances, which were lauded by audience members. I thought her play was much better than Agatha Christie s, Stephen Arnold, who lives at Linden Ponds, said of Frances Galton s work. The writing was terrific. The whole scheme was terrific. The actors did a great job.

Original script

Frances struggled to find another script to pair with Agatha Christie s play. Instead, the professional playwright put her years of writing and directing plays to use and crafted her own from a screenplay she had begun writing years ago. This group gave me a reason to make it into a play and finish it, she says, adding, It s always good to work with a troop that you get to know. You get to know them, and you write for them. Most of the 15 or so players have been performing together for years at Linden Ponds in biannual shows and other community-wide events. We had a really good time, Sandy Peavey says of the recent performance, adding of Frances s acting, She is very talented. I m happy this group has stayed together and continues to work with me, Frances says. I know what they can do and they re really getting better all the time. You learn a lot working with interesting people. It s really challenging it s really good at keeping your mind sharp, Mary Roever, who played Nurse Bond, says referencing the need to become familiar with other actors lines in addition to her own. The actors carry scripts as a safeguard, but most seem to know their lines by heart. Customary of their shows, proceeds of the free performances supported campus charities. Frances encourages people to submit original works of contemporary poems, stories, and plays for future shows. I try to do something different every time, she says.

Mystery synopses spoiler alert!

Scandalous attempt: The Patient In The Patient, Dr. Ginsberg, played by Brad Seager, and Inspector Cray, played by Vinson Bronson, suspect Jenny, played by Joan Lerner, was pushed from the balcony. They bring in the four people who were in the house at the time of the incident: her husband Bryan, played by Ed Lerner; her sister Emmeline Ross, played by Florence Hunter; her brother William Ross, played by Dick White; and Bryan s secretary Brenda Jackson, played by Sandy Peavey. Guided by Dr. Ginsberg s questioning, Jenny utilizes the mobility in her hand to ring a bell, once for yes, twice for no. She reveals knowing that she was pushed but appears to slip out of consciousness before revealing by whom. Further questioned by Dr. Ginsberg, each character s distinct personality is soon revealed, as each reason why he or she is not guilty. With conviction, Brenda Jackson insists her affair with Bryan is long over. Emmeline produces a love letter found hidden in the house as evidence of an affair. Knowing that Jenny can speak but didn t see who pushed her, Dr. Ginsberg and Inspector Cray order all suspects out of the room, leaving the patient by herself and vulnerable to the perpetrator. In a twist, Nurse Bond, the seemingly attentive and obedient character, returns. Bond, played by Mary Roever, is unapologetic and spunky when caught, revealing herself as the true subject of the love letter and Bryan s current mistress. Murderous recall: The Amnesiac Powerful dialogue carried Frances Galton s The Amnesiac the quest to identify a runaway teenager found unclothed and disoriented beside a road. Officer Casey, played by Anne Kangos, escorts the teen, played by an indignant Sandy Peavey, to the police station. A skillful psychiatrist Dr. Wiley, played by Joan Lerner, questions the teen on word associations and names her Jane. Having seen the teen s photo on television, two couples come to the police station to claim the girl they believe is their daughter. Left waiting together, they exchange stories. Edgar and Mildred Schwartz, played by Ed Lerner and Ruth Diezemann, explain having lost track of their adopted daughter about six years before. Ruth plays a convincing Mildred, distraught by her daughter s disappearance, while her husband is suspiciously anxious about the situation and a flight they must catch. Harry and Martha LoPresti, played by Vincent Bronson and Florence Hunter, are dealing with the more recent disappearance of their daughter. Harry attributes her escape to a boy, while Martha isn t so sure. She produces a note her daughter left behind. When Jane reemerges, Dr. Wiley asks the parents questions connected to the word association exercise she undertook with Jane earlier. The story unravels with Jane s returning memory of a woman who was pushed down the stairs of the family house and killed. She identifies her father Edgar as the woman s murderer, Jane s birth mother.