For the upcoming production Who Killed Gertrude Crump at the Capitol Theatre, actor Tara Travis has resurrected murder mystery legend Agatha Christie.
“She’s particularly cheeky in the afterlife,” said Travis, who stars as Christie’s ghost. She will be performing her one-woman puppet performance for one night on Sunday, January 18 at 8 p.m.
Travis previously performed in Nelson in the acclaimed ’Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Her latest is set on New Year’s Eve in 1899.
While her Christie character appears in human form, the rest of the show is done with table top puppets. And though the trappings may look aimed at children, she insists her show is actually for adults.
“Puppetry is being used more and more for adult humour,” she said, noting that she recently performed in Vancouver’s gay bar Celebrities.
“Puppets can get away with anything. If you really want to get audacious and get into sensitive territory and really go for edgy humour, it’s amazing how much permission you get when a puppet is saying the things, not a human being,” she said.
At times, the puppets even surprise her.
“Sometimes my puppets say things that horrify me.”
The show follows the mysterious murder of mystery author Gertrude Crump. All of the guests at the isolated Monkswell Manor are suspects.
The show is a traditional murder mystery that will engage the audience in the solving process. The Agatha Christie character will routinely check in with the audience and ask about their predictions.
Travis said the script by Monster Theatre’s Ryan Gladstone is “smart and stupid all at the same time.”
“Ryan just has this unique brand of humour that catches you off guard. It will cover the most base things in such a cerebral way. Half the time we have to add in an extra laugh break because there’s a pause for people to calculate and register the joke,” she said.
The role is demanding both physically and mentally.
“I have to program my brain so that while one character is talking my other hand knows which one is next, and I always have to be physically one step ahead of the text,” she said.
“When you see it on stage it doesn’t always look impressive, but I’m actually doing intense brain acrobatics. I’ll have to be well-rested.”
Who Killed Gertrude Crump is one of 11 new shows being rolled out by the Capitol Theatre in the new year.
It will play for one night on January 18 at 8 p.m. For more information visit capitoltheatre.bc.ca or call (250) 352-6363.
For more information about Monster Theatre visit monstertheatre.com.
THE LITTLE PRINCE
On the same day as Gertrude Crump, Travis will also perform The Little Prince at 2 p.m.
Aimed at kids K-7, the show is an adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s cherished novella.
Travis said the story is one she cherished as a child.
“It reminds grownups to think like children and it reminds children that they are important and their imaginations are important,” she said.
Travis will appear onstage with Nancy Kenny, who will play the prince himself. Travis, meanwhile, will play the remainder of the characters.
“He encounters a number of characters as he travels from planet to planet. There are some puppets, some body masks and some big costume pieces,” she said.