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A Kid's Critique: The Game's Afoot



9-year-old Sullivan Maley has become a frequent figure at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, where he often accompanies his father, TBT's Dennis Maley, on opening night. When the folks at the Asolo Repertory Theatre learned that Sullivan was an avid theater fan who has already performed in school productions, and even written his own plays, they invited him to pen a review of the family-friendly The Game's Afoot, a farcical "whodunit" that dramatizes the life of stage actor William Gillette, who was most noted for his theatrical resurrection of the Sherlock Holmes character.



SARASOTA – Asolo Rep's The Game's Afoot is a comedic, suspense-filled play based on a bit of historical fiction. When stage actor William Gillette (Bryan Torfeh) plays Sherlock Holmes, a shot is fired as he is bowing at the end of the play, hitting him in the shoulder and wounding him badly. During his recovery, he invites the rest of the cast to celebrate Christmas at the Gillette Castle, his tricked-out mansion on the Connecticut River. Then, when one of the guests is found dead with a knife in the back, Gillette takes over his famous character to solve the mystery.

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Gail Rastorfer (center) flanked by Brittany Proia and Joseph McGranaghan. Photo by Barbara Banks

In real life, Gillette had nearly as much responsibility in shaping the Sherlock Holmes character as creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He gave Sherlock some of the things we now know Holmes best for, such as his hat and his pipe, even his famous “elementary” line. That should be no surprise, for Gillette played Holmes in the theater more than 1,300 times! Some other actors that have portrayed Holmes include Clive Brook, Basil Rathbone, Michael Caine, Robert Downey, Jr. and Peter Cushing.

Gail Rastorfer, who played ruthless stage critic Daria Chase, did an excellent job. She took her role very seriously and was magnificent. She was the perfect villain – a theater critic amongst a crowd of actors whom she had given bad reviews to. Also, another great performance came from Carolyn Michel (Inspector Goring) whose accent and facial expressions fit her character perfectly. Bryan Torfeh performed exceptionally well as the main character, William Gillette, the eccentric actor who many people felt actually thought he was Sherlock Holmes!

The costumes, designed by Eduardo Sicangco, matched the time period very well. The assorted dresses and suits really took you back in time. The sets, designed by Judy Gallen, were magnificent. Some features included a hidden bar revealed simply by pulling on a lever, a voice recorder that could be turned on and off from every light switch, and an intercom that allowed you to speak with people at not only the front door, but from any room in the house! There are two sets, which are changed very fast: one for the Sherlock Holmes play, another for the Gillette Castle.

The mix of suspense and comedy in this play will truly blow you away. The mystery keeps you guessing right until the end! Playwright Ken Ludwig's magnificent play The Game's Afoot will be in theater from March 29 to May 12. Click here for schedule and ticket information.

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Elizabeth King-Hall, Brittany Proia, Bryan Torfeh, Eric Hissom, Peggy Roeder and Joseph McGranaghan.

Photo by Barbara Banks


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