Review: ‘Marsha’ kills with laughter

BY BRUCE SIWY
DAILY AMERICAN

September 21, 2013

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JENNERSTOWN — Marsha Gilmore could have taken to romance novels or the funny pages.
Thankfully for us, she didn't.

"Let's Murder Marsha" is a giddy romp through the imagination-infused reality of its murder-mystery-fueled protagonist — or, perhaps more aptly described, antagonist. Written by Monk Ferris, the show debuted at the Mountain Playhouse on Wednesday under the direction of Chan Harris.

Marsha (Ashley Puckett Gonzales) is convinced that her husband (Larry Tobias) is plotting homicide as his birthday surprise for her. If this wasn't bad enough, he's purportedly planning this deed with a so-called co-worker who happens to be a menacingly beautiful blonde named Persis Devore (Sara Sawyer).

To turn the tables, Marsha enlists her bookish neighbor, Virgil Baxter (Sean Patrick Hopkins), to help with her only logical recourse: a murder of their own. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between two factions with wildly different motives and misconceptions.

"Let's Murder Marsha" has all the makings of a typical door-slamming, slapstick farce, but it sets itself apart with a number of cleverly employed stage devices. The actors and actresses, for example, are scarcely idle and always visible: When not "on stage," cast members merely step behind the see-through walls of the home's living room and play background music and operate hand-held sound effects.

The ambitious production is handled by a great cast. Suzanne Ishee is excellent as Marsha's stern and manipulative mother. Jeffrey Correia's Ben Quade is like a young Jim Carrey. And Charis Leos' Bianca is a riot — just the type of housemaid you'd like to have a beer with.

"Let's Murder Marsha" may have been the best Mountain Playhouse show of the year so far. It's over-the-top fun.