A Stab in the Dark (play)
A Stab in the Dark is a whodunnit written by Australian playwright Alex Vickery-Howe. The first production was performed in Adelaide, South Australia, in February - March 2008 and directed by Toni Main.
Helmut Kinderland James Aubrey
Randal Devlin Scout Adam Willson
Myles Fletcher Andrew Crupi
Eleanor Grubb Bridget Walters
Isabella Virtue Tanya Kaploon
Jade Sloan Katherine Warner
Walter Crowley Martin Hissey
Lacey Crowley Maya Aleksandra
Sheila Hunt Stephanie Pinnock
Maverick Horne Alec Hall
A Stab in the Dark begins with the arrival of Myles Fletcher and Randal Devlin Scout to the remote island home of their adopted father, Helmut Kinderland. Sniveling, stuttering Fletcher is a stark contrast to the confident and charismatic Scout. The two swap stories about the times shared together in Mr. Kinderland’s custody before they are joined by Eleanor Grubb, the caretaker.
Fletcher agonizes over the dire weather warnings as Scout gets the alcohol flowing and Mrs. Grubb wonders who these two strange people are, despite having been their nanny for many years. The reunion party moves up a notch when Isabella Virtue, Fletcher’s old flame, swans in. Fletcher and Virtue have shared a steamy past causing Fletcher to become even more nervous. Soon, Walter Crowley and his butch wife Sheila Hunt thunder through the door mid-argument.
The Crowleys are followed by Walter’s twin sister, Lacey. She attempts to steer the reunion back on course while Jade Sloan, a twisted and sadistic fashion designer, enters to expose the bitter secrets of the feuding guests. Finally, the last member of the group, dashing pilot Maverick Horne, enters via the back window and tries to seduce everyone else in the room. The cast of wicked characters is assembled and, just when everyone begins to put their differences aside, Mr. Kinderland’s bloody corpse slips out from behind the curtains...
The play was developed at Higher Ground, a South Australian arts venue, as part of the 2008 Adelaide Fringe Festival. The writer received the Independent Arts Foundation Literature Award based on a body of work, including A Stab in the Dark and Once Upon a Midnight.
The show is a murder mystery homage, closely modeled on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None but in the fast-paced comic style of Clue and Murder By Death. There are elements of slapstick and wordplay but also scenes that feature graphic horror and surrealism.
Throughout, the killer mimics Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, alluding to the strand that binds the adopted children together... in this case, the 'pestilence' Red Death refers to is porphyria. Each of the characters possesses a rare blood type and they eventually discover that they were all adopted to keep their "father", Helmut Kinderland, healthy through regular transfusions. It is suggested that Mr. Kinderland murdered their birth parents to harvest them as babies, triggering the chain of events.
A further allusion is made to the seven deadly sins; sloth (Helmut Kinderland), gluttony (Walter Crowley), pride (Jade Sloan), envy (Sheila Hunt), lust (Maverick Horne), greed (Randal Devlin Scout) and the killer's wrath. In contrast, aptly named Isabella Virtue is loyal to Myles Fletcher, who embodies humility, while Lacey Crowley is defined by her kindness. The latter three survive until the play's climax.
In the climatic scene, the play breaks completely from naturalism by having the character of Mr. Kinderland return from the dead, as a ghost or vision, but this is framed as a symptom of the killer's madness. Additionally, the song Hush, Little Baby is repeated many times in the story, often when the characters are reflecting on their childhood, to create an eerie effect. At first, there is an onstage source for the song, but overtime it creeps in without explanation and plays for the last time when the killer is confronted.
Rip It Up Magazine said of the original production "A Stab In The Dark brings together a cast of characters representing all aspects of human vice, and everyone quickly exhibits all sorts of ulterior motives as the plot takes all sorts of twists and turns. Played brilliantly by all the players and with some great artistic direction, this one will keep you guessing right till the thrilling conclusion. Remember, nothing is as it seems! Very good indeed!"
The play was performed in Delton, Michigan in February 2016 and directed by Renae Feldpausch.
Helmut Kinderland Gene Trantham
Randal Devlin Scout Sam West
Myles Fletcher Charlie Saulino
Eleanor Grubb Sharon Weisman
Isabella Virtue Jordan Dimock
Jade Sloan Sarah Eddy
Walter Crowley Franklin White
Lacey Crowley Karla Fales
Sheila Hunt Adorée Miron
Maverick Horne Will Eichelberger
Additionally, Rodger Hough played a policeman in the final scene.