Murder Most Fowl

Like the cat with nine lives, Denver's longest running (interrupted) production, Murder Most Fowl is back, for six shows only.

Originally written by John Ashton and Bob Wells, it was first performed in 1988. Since that time a host of others have rewritten the script or contributed to it. Murder Most Fowl has been performed throughout the region, and since 1993 has been a holiday season staple for Ashton's Avenue Theatre.

As the title indicates, the show is a murder mystery that includes audience participation. The action takes place backstage at the fictional Denver Consortium Theatre, where the headliner, Robert Poulet, is driving the disreputable theatre producer Dexter Coop, fuss-budget stage manager Max Nugget, prima donna Holly Pharme, and ambitious understudy Hammond Deggs crazy with his pompous demands.

Suddenly, during the first scene of the first act of that "Scottish play"—you know, the one that actors never discuss by name for fear of "something evil this way comes"—Poulet turns up dead. Soon, Lieutenant Harlon Sanders shows up to investigate. Before long, the audience is questioning the suspects, and eventually vote on who dunnit, keeping the actors on their toes lest they become "the accused." The actors never know who's going to get convicted, so each of them is supposed to be prepared to confess.

The constant flow of zinging one-liners is regularly updated with references to local and global topics of note, and the actors are free to improvise and insert late-breaking parody as they see fit. The title of the play comes from that same "Scottish play" which, despite the aforementioned prohibition, is spoken a couple of times in Murder Most Fowl, and causes great conniptions for the players.

This year the show will feature Jim Hunt (filling in a few times as Dexter Coop), and Chris Willard (Hammond Deggs). Bill Berry (Dexter Coop), Pamela Clifton (Holly Pharme), John Ashton (Lt. Sanders) and Bob Wells (Max Nugget), members of the original cast, will reprise their roles.

The Avenue Theatre's production of Murder Most Fowl will run late nights, at 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 26 and 27, and Jan. 2 and 3; and at 7:30 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 21 and 28. 303-321-5925.

Bob Bows


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