‘Busybody’: Comedic whodunit at POS

Published 11:32 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

“Busybody,” which opens this weekend at Picayune On Stage, is a classic whodunit with a comedic twist. Audiences will watch as the tale of two very busybodies — a meddling office cleaner and a dead body who just can’t stay still — unfolds itself until all the mysteries are eventually unraveled.

The cast includes: Iris Bryant, Mrs. Piper; Joe Navoy, Richard Marshall; Jack Schalles, Detective Constable Goddard; Paul Page, Detective Superintendent Baxter; Sarah Judge, Claire Marshall; Donna Cohen, Marian Selby; Gary Troescher, Robert Westerby and Krystal Wright, Vicki Reynolds. While not all are new to theatre, most are new to Picayune On Stage.

Once again, POS does what POS does best — searching out locals with a flair for the dramatic, and thrusting them into the limelight. There are many interesting and new faces in this production and it was great to see some raw talents emerging from the footlights.

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At a recent dress rehearsal, the show saw itself finally coming together. After weeks and months of rehearsals, it was obvious the cast was starting to become more comfortable with really taking command of their characters and the set.

No stranger to the stage, but a stranger to the Picayune stage, is Bryant who plays the lead busybody. Bryant delivers a knockout punch in her role as Mrs. Piper and she is effortlessly able to find the bawdy — very reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Nurse in “Romeo and Juliet,” — without being perverse but rather endearing and clever.

Paul Page, who plays Detective Baxter who is unfortunate enough to be called in to investigate the mysterious murder with the disappearing body, proved his handle on Baxter’s idiosyncrasies. Clearly Page not only looks the part, but has found a way to connect with Baxter on some deeper levels, which traverses the fourth wall.

Navoy, Schalles, Judge, Cohen, Troescher and Wright are each winning in their roles with Cohen really getting into the skin of the overly stuffy Selby and Troescher delivering a seamless transition for the show’s dramatic conclusion. Each actor has the beginnings of some really solid character development which will only continue blossoming.

Not new to POS but quickly finding a real niche as a strong director is Donna Aguilard. Last seen as an actor in “The Queen of BINGO,” Aguilard, who also directed the very funny “Natalie Needs a Nightie,” once again gets the opportunity to show off her directing chops. She has painted some very artful stage pictures and uses the deep proscenium stage to its best abilities giving each actor their own light, even when they are all on together. A cast of eight might have the potential to overwhelm this small storefront space but Aguilard does not let that happen with her creative direction.

She is also quickly becoming the “queen of entrances and exits.” As in most comedies, it’s all in the timing, and as the timing starts to come together for this production, Aguilard could find herself with another big knockout under her belt. One wouldn’t be surprised if she decides to tackle “Noises Off” in the future.

Supporting Aguilard are Shannon Catoire and Ben Poolson both of whom are favorites on the local stage. In this production, Catoire has taken on the role of assistant director while Poolson will be running lights and sound.

The show “Busybody,” written by Jack Popplewell, takes place in three-acts and is set in the private office of Richard Marshall, high up in a block of offices in London. As Mrs. Piper discovers a body, it is clear who becomes first on the list of suspects — Mrs. Piper. Once the two detectives come in, they quickly round up the other suspects, including the boss’s wife, the company accountant, the secretary and the typist.

The detectives become increasingly more befuddled while trying to solve all the mysterious events surrounding the murder(s) while Mrs. Piper does her very best to skillfully hinder the investigation, much to the Detective Baxter’s mounting frustrations. Baxter already suffers a bad cold and now an even worse temper.

Don’t miss “Busybody” at Picayune On Stage located at 322 W. Canal St. in downtown Picayune. The show opens this weekend, Friday, June 12 and runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 28. Friday and Saturday shows will start at 8 p.m., while Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students. Due to limited seating, tickets must be reserved in advance. For more information, or to reserve your seats, call 601-749-5551 or visit www.picayuneonstage.com.