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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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(Updated 4:30 p.m., Aug. 15)
Outdoor murder mystery production a wonderful whodunnit

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Reverend Waterford, played by Sebastien Melbourne, appears to be in a great deal of discomfort during a scene in the Vintage Stock murder mystery production of 'Nursing a Grudge'. Chantal G. Desilets/Pphoto

When it comes to murder mystery theatre, the Cumberland-based Vintage Stock Theatre company has truly perfected the genre as evident by their latest produc-tion, “Nursing a Grudge”, written and directed by Marni Hunt-Stephens and produced by Emélie Perron-Clow.

As has become tradition, VST’s murder mystery is performed on the grounds of the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum and the story takes place during a moment in the former township’s history – in this case at the outset of the First World War.

In writing “Nursing a Grudge”, Hunt Stephens has truly outdone herself in the number of plot twists the audience is left trying to navigate through, and the number of suspects they must whittle down in trying to indentify the murderer.

The plot is based on the efforts that were made to recruit young women into the nursing ranks during the war effort. Besides the big cities, recruting officers were sent to small towns and villages like Cumberland to tug on the townfolks’ patriotic heart strings.

In “Nursing a Grudge”, the job of recruiting new nurses is left up to Boer War veteran Wilfrid Waters and his wife/nurse Elizabeth Waters. They have a willing audience in at least two of the village’s young women – Gertrude Haverley and Prunella Waterford. The latter is the daughter of the local Reverend who is none too keen about her wanting to become a nurse.

At the same time, the Waters arrive in town, female adventurer Eunice Younkers has stopped by during a break in her cross-Canada speaking tour. While in town she is reunited with a paramour she met while in the Yukon – town handyman Lancelot Lewis, who is also under Reverend Waterford’s thumb.

The rest of the cast of characters includes Gertrude’s younger sisters, Guinevere and Gretchen, along with their mother Geraldine; Gilbert Grainger the town’s resident inventor; Vera Ellis, a spinster who also has ties to the Reverend; and Portia Cullen, a fellow adventurer whose plane crashes into a chicken coop.

Two of the leading characters in the Vintage Stock Theatre production of 'Nursing a Grudge' are Eunice Younkers, played by Sam Lipovski, and Gilbert Grainger, played by Scott Stewart. Chantal G. Desilets/Photo

Almost all of the characters have a motive to commit murder. The question the audience is left to answer is which one of them did it?

Vintage Stock Theatre murder mystery productions are known for the lively interaction between the characters and the audience which is encouraged to ask questions throughout the play, and afterwards when members of the cast mingle about the tables during dinner.

The production wraps up just after dessert as one by one each cast member is ruled out as a suspect until the guilty party is revealed.

The cast of “Nursing a Grudge” includes several new faces such as Judy Armstrong, who plays Geraldine Haverley; Pascale Lachance who plays Portia Cullen; and Danielle Pabstel who plays Mrs. Waters.

Three performances stood out in particular were by Sam Lipovski who played Eunice Younkers; Nik Cotter who played Lancelot Lewis; and Vintage Stock veteran Sebastien Melbourne who played the Reverend.

Vintage Stock Theatre’s next production will be a Shades of the Evening redux of their 2007 lamplight production of “Outrage: The McGonigle Murders” based on the 1890 abduction and murder of sisters Mary, 12, and Eliza McGonigle, 14. For ticket information visit www.vintagestock.on.ca.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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