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Theatre Review: 'Murder on the Bounding Main'

Murder_on_Bounding_Main.JPG
Murder on the Bounding Main @ the Sierra Madre Playhouse.
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We had never been to Sierra Madre before, and this writer’s significant other can be enticed to see theatre once in a blue moon - especially if the production involves murders or mysteries, so we decided to make the drive up the 210 freeway to the sleepy little burg to catch Murder on the Bounding Main at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.

It’s such a sleepy little burg that most of the cute coffee shops and restaurants were starting to close up shop by play’s intermission -- and unfortunately, the play itself wasn’t a “destination production.” It was a middling community-theatre whodunit, and perfect if, say your parents (or grandparents) are in town and you’re at a total loss as to what to do with them after an early bird dinner.

The premise of writer (and lead actor) Jack Chansler’s play is simple. The year is 1953. A celebrity gossip columnist-critic (Jim Follet) is murdered aboard The Bounding Main, a ship on a transatlantic voyage. There are numerous suspects, including the purportedly gay Hollywood leading man (Brian Ames), his manager (Richard Leppig) and a comic scorned by the critic (Barry Schwarm).

Luckily, ace sleuth Mordecai Pierce (Chansler) is honeymooning aboard the Bounding Main - albeit with a bad bad bout of seasickness. Good thing that his new wife, and former assistant Teresa (Joanna Houghton), is on hand to help solve the case. (The only mystery that Teresa left unsolved was whether she was from England or New Jersey. Houghton seemed to unintentionally slip into various accents, which was a little distracting.)

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Bounding Main is an innocuous production, with a few laughs and a little suspense. When Chansler introduces a more serious subplot about communist witch hunts of the '50s late in the play, we're not sure what genre it really wants to be. So if you find yourself in Sierra Madre with your parents, and have nothing better to do, then go support the Sierra Madre Playhouse -- otherwise save yourself the drive.

Murder on the Bounding Main
Sierra Madre Playhouse
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 2:30 pm
Through Feb. 21