Christmastime is all about family, love, and caring for others. But at the Scarborough Theatre Guild, it’s about death, suspense, and plot twists.
The theatre’s newest production of No Traveller Returns came to life as they performed their opening night show on Nov. 29.
The play was written by Maureen Jennings, the author of the urdoch Mysteries” series. It is set in December 1895 at an inn in Huntsville, Ont. It follows a group of people forced to take refuge in the inn because of a snow storm. However, once a person is found dead, they all must hunt down the murderer before the killer strikes again.
The play does well in maintaining an authentic 19th century feel with the costumes, dialogue, and setting.
Jennings succeeds in incorporating many themes into her play, not only focusing on a typical murder mystery, but also showcasing love rekindled, scandal, historical aspects, and even moments of humour. The whole theatre was roaring with laughter at the jokes.
No Traveller Returns mixes both senior Scarborough Theatre Guild performers as well as a few actors making their debut.
Sophie Schade shined in her role as Sarah Ryan, the daughter of the inn owner. The Grade 11 student showed off her professionalism. In a scene alongside Alex Bortoluzzi, Ryan gets flustered stuttering her line, but she quickly recovers, making it seem like it was written in the script.
Sandy Stephens, who is on the board of Autism Canada, showed great range in his acting, switching from a comedic to a serious role as John Wilson. He said he dedicated the performance to his son Luc.
But the real star of the show was Jeremy Henson as the Great Prospero, the loveable magician. He delivered every line with ease and was a clear favourite from the audience.
Aside from the acting, the whole cast and crew did a magnificent job transforming the Scarborough Village Theatre into the lobby of an 1895 lodge inn, featuring a stone fireplace. Although there was only one set design, the company made use of the entire stage. The amphitheatre was intimate and allowed more connection to the stage.
The opening night festivities featured an appearance by the playwright who raffled off a signed copy of her first “Murdoch Mysteries” book to the person who could successfully guess who the murderer was.
The director, Julie McLaughlin, wrote in the playbill that she is “deeply grateful to Maureen Jennings for creating these characters and their stories and to our production team for bringing them to life on our stage.”
Overall No Traveller Returns is a must-see for any murder mystery or Murdoch Mysteries fan. It’s a nice change from the usual Christmas movies and specials playing on television.
No Traveller Returns will run until Dec. 15 and tickets can be purchased on the Scarborough Theatre Guild’s website.