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Stage Door set to perform double feature

In the good old days, theaters showed double features – two shows for the price of one.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the White River High School theater, Stage Door Productions presents a double feature for its fall performance, “Black Comedy” and “The Real Inspector Hound,” both directed by Lucas Amundson.

“The Real Inspector Hound” is a short, one-act play by Tom Stoppard. The plot follows two theatre critics named Moon and Birdboot who are watching a ludicrous setup of a country house murder, in the style of a whodunit. By chance, they become involved in the action causing a series of events that parallel the play they are watching. It is a parody of the stereotypical parlor mystery in the style of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” as well as of the critics watching the play, with their personal desires and obsessions interwoven into their bombastic and pompous reviews.

The title is a direct reference to the ending of “The Mousetrap,” a play well-known for guarding the secrecy of its twist ending, although the producers of Christie’s play could not publicly object without drawing even more attention to the fact.

“Black Comedy” is a one-act play by British dramatist Peter Shaffer, first performed in 1965. The play is, suitably enough, a black comedy in which the effect loss of light would have on a group of people who all hold things from each other is explored; as such, its title is a pun. The play is a farce set in a London flat during an electrical blackout and was written to be staged under a reversed lighting scheme: that is, the play opens with a dinner party beginning on a darkened stage, then a few minutes into the show a fuse blows, the stage lights come up and the characters are seen shambling around apparently invisible to one another.

The plot in brief is as follows: Brindsley Miller and his fiancée Carol Melkett have borrowed the fancy furniture from neighbor Harold Gorringe’s flat in order to impress Carol’s father, Col. Melkett. Brindsley, an artist, is afraid that the Colonel will not give up his daughter to a starving artist. Things go awry when the lights go out, leaving Brindsley helpless as characters arrive, one by one. First is Brindsley’s elderly neighbor, Miss Furnival. Col. Melkett, unimpressed by the blackout, arrives, and Brindsley’s worst nightmare comes true as Harold returns early, and Brindsley tries desperately to return the furniture without Harold noticing.

Tickets are $8 in advance at Radio Shack, The Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce and the Arts Alive Gallery, and $10 at the door. For information, contact Stage Door Productions at 360-825-2212.

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