ABOUT THE PLAY
In Rehearsal for Murder, Bella Lamb, a theatrical producer, tells
playwright Alex Dennison that if his new mystery play does not do well on
Broadway, he can always sell it to television. Actually, in the case of
Rehearsal for Murder, TV came first, then the play. The original TV script,
the basis for the play by D. D. Brooke, was written by Richard Levinson and
William Link, two of TV’s most successful mystery writers, responsible for
the creation of Mannix, Columbo, and most notably, Murder She Wrote.
We are in the hands here of two real professionals. It is not
surprising that Rehearsal for Murder is very clever. It has as its basis
Hamlet’s words that “guilty creatures sitting at a play, have by the very
cunning of the scene, been struck so to the soul that presently they have
proclaimed their malefaction …. The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the
conscience of the king”. Rehearsal for Murder is a play within a play,
devised to unmask a killer.
It won’t be easy to detect the murderer’s identity. As Alex tells his
actors, “You take the audience by the hand and lead them in the wrong
direction. They trust you and you betray them, all in the name of surprise”.
And surprise there is. Smoke and mirrors. Signs and portents that mayor
may not lead anywhere.
The clues are all there. So are the red herrings. What is the
significance of the monocle, the Girl Scout knife, the envelope of money, the
flashlight? Why is Ernie, the doorman, so reluctant to leave the theatre? Can
Sally be as naive as she appears to be? Who is the man Alex sneaks into the
theatre, unbeknownst to the others? Why the arrival at a crucial moment of
the play of Santoro, the moving man, who comes to unload some furniture?
Answer these questions and you might very well have the key to solving the
mystery. Or, you might be led down the garden path.
Richard Gidez for SCCT