Darker, deeper and just a little bit funny

Ladysmith Little Theatre mixes suspense and comedy in Ravenscroft

Sarah Thomson plays the daughter of the late Mr. Ravenscroft in Ladysmith Little Theatre’s latest production

Sarah Thomson plays the daughter of the late Mr. Ravenscroft in Ladysmith Little Theatre’s latest production

Suspense cut with just the right touches of levity.

For a director, it’s a hard line to walk, but one that can result in a big payoff.

It’s a line director Gord McInnis believes his cast has nicely toed in the latest offering from Ladysmith’s Little Theatre troupe, Ravenscroft.

A Gothic thriller meets dark comedy set in a remote English manor in 1905, Ravenscroft opens Thursday aiming to keep audiences guessing while at the same time sweeping them along for the ride.

Some people will automatically think Agatha Christie, but McInnis says this show doesn’t quite fit the mould.

“People who like just straight murder mysteries will like it, but also whoever likes to see something off the norm,” McInnis said.

“Without trying to scare people away, it is a script that has a little bit more meat to it, but when you do it right, there is a lot of entertainment and a lot of laughs. It’s also got some interesting themes about truth and how we pursue it, and about children and families.”

Written by American playwright Don Nigro, the plot revolves around the staircase death of the Ravenscroft estate’s handsome handyman, Patrick, scant months after estate-owner Mr. Ravenscroft met his end in the same manner.

‘Inspector Ruffing of Scotland Yard comes to question the remaining members of the household: the flighty widow, the manipulative daughter, the circumspect governess, the straitlaced housekeeper, and the slow-witted maid,” the show’s promotional material reads.

“The accounts of that fatal night lead Ruffing through a bewildering labyrinth of contradictory versions of Patrick’s demise and that of the late Mr. Ravenscroft. There are ghosts on the staircase, many skeletons in the closet, and more than the Inspector bargained for.”

The cast includes Christ Ostaffy (Inspector Ruffing), Elizabeth Herman, (the governess),  Inge Cathers (the housekeeper), Kelly Barnum (Mrs. Ravenscroft), Sarah Thomson (the daughter), and Sheriden Collyer-Valems as Dolly, the maid.

An LLT veteran, McInnis previously directed this play about 15 years ago in Squamish. He said that version focused a little more on the humour, this one a bit more on the suspense. That’s simply the result of playing to the strengths of the cast.

“It’s just what the actors bring. You can’t make somebody be something they aren’t,” he said. “I feel really, really fortunate with the people I’ve got.”

In between dates in Ladysmith, the cast will pick up the production and head to Cedar Hall to present it as the LLT entry in the 2015 Theatre B.C. Annual Regional Theatre Festival’s South Island Zone competition, being hosted by the Yellow Point Drama Group.

According to the director, the move should be easy and he hopes the play stacks up well.

“It’s a fun, fun script. It was a fun show to do and a fun show to watch.”

Ravenscroft is scheduled for 8 p.m. on April 23, 24, 25 and 30. and May 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 at Ladysmith Little Theatre, 4985 Christie Road. Matinees are also set for 2 p.m. May 3 and 10.

Tickets are $20. Call 250-924-0658 or go to ladysmiththeatre.com for more.