07 April 2009

Unraveling a Mystery

This past weekend, I watched a musical that was produced by the university's very own Department of Theatre and Dance. It was a very interactive and perhaps, the best performance I have seen so far. It was a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Rupert Holmes, based on the unfinished novel by Charles Dickens.

Let me tell the plot first. The plot involves Edwin Drood, who is engaged to Rosa Bud. Drood disappears from the scene halfway, and several characters are suspects. The obvious suspect is John Jasper, Drood's uncle, who happens to be in love with Rosa, his music pupil. Another suspect is Reverend Chrisparkle, who is in love with Rosa's mother and wanted to somehow continue the unrequited love with the daughter. A third suspect is Neville Landless, who is an immigrant from Ceylon, and seems to have taken a fancy on Rosa. Helena Landless, the brother of Neville, is also a suspect for some reason. Finally, Princess Puffer, if I am not mistaken, is also a suspect, since it was later revealed that she had some connections with Rosa Bud's past.

The nice thing about this musical is that this is an interactive one. The audience has a hand in deciding the ending. It is also metatheatrical: it is a musical within a musical. It is a mystery but it is also a comedy. The musical starts with the characters approaching the audience, explaining the voting process to the audience. They act as actors of the Music Hall Royale, of which later they play the story in Edwin Drood. The audience then votes who they think is the killer, and they also vote on who they think is the mysterious character Datchery. They also vote on a couple that would sing together for a happy ending.

I have to say that I am impressed with the performance. The fact that the audience has to decide the ending implies that the actors rehearsed multiple lines for the conclusion, depending on what the outcome would be. I am impressed at that. I also like the fact that the actors never broke character, especially when they were talking to the audience. The first song actually incorporates some members of the audience, asking for volunteers to do certain things.

In short, this was a nice little break from the busy wave of things. I suppose it lightens up the last three weeks of the semester in a good way.

(Embassy of Japan, from my Embassy Row Series)

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