It’s hard to be funny, just ask the cast of Aaaaagh! Murder!
As a spoof on all things Masterpiece Theatre, from Agatha Christie to “Downton Abbey”, Aaaaaagh! Murder! sets itself up as a classic whodunit with colorful characters that poke fun at classic British stereotypes – or more specifically, American stereotypes of classic British stereotypes.
The caricatures include the Killingtons, the Lord and Lady of Gloomethorne Manor who are hosting a dinner party in Upperwest Grizleydeath. Just before the festivities begin, they learn that seven members of his staff have been murdered in the worst possible ways, a fact that doesn’t seem to bother Lord Killington (played by playwright Nick Firer) due the victims’ low social standing.
The tightly wound and prone-to-faint Lady Killington (Claire Coyle) also seems more concerned with finding ways to say “fancy hats” and ensuring that the dinner party can continue as planned.
Guests include the incomprehensible Col. Longbaugh (played by Justin Brill in an ill-fitting white wig) retired from a lifetime of service in Africa and his brain-cell-challenged “ward”/girlfriend American Loretta Swank (director Desiree Gibson channeling Marilyn Monroe).
They are joined by Barnaby Tweed (Sean O’Conner), a Scotland Yard investigator tasked with solving the crimes, and the straight-man butler Winfield (Vic Issitude), who should’ve had more stage time.
There were a few chuckle-worthy moments, including a great bit when Swank goes intentionally and horrifically out of character, and when the Colonel says “Gasp!” instead of actually gasping.
Unfortunately most of the show wasn’t particularly funny, despite the oddest bouts of laughter from a couple of audience members at all the strangest places. Friends of the cast, maybe?
Despite it being only an hour long, I found myself clockwatching halfway through. The Colonel’s mutterings dragged for far too long, especially since you could only discern every third word. The excessive fainting by Lady Killington was, well, excessive, and I get that Swank is dumb, but even a dimwit knows what the word “investigation” means.
Ironically the best part of the comedy was after the play ended and before the cast took bows, when they did an awesome send-up to those Benny Hill attempted-sexual-assault chases with full music. Now, that was funny.
Aaaaagh! Murder! has 6 performances, ending July 24, 2012 at Mountain at Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church 900 Massachusetts Ave NW DC.
Lisa rates this 2 out of a possible 5.