By Shelley Koppel
BREVARD - It's the middle of a Florida summer, and most of us are trying to stay cool.
At the Titusville Playhouse, the season brings a return of its summer show, and it's full of light entertainment, just right for this time of year.
From July 27-Aug. 5, the group presents the farcical comedy, "The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery" by David McGillvray and Walter Zerlin. The show is a gentle poke at amateur theatrics.
Mary Ann Jameson is the play's director. She said that she and the cast of five are having a lot of fun rehearsing.
"It's bizarre and off the wall," she said. "It's a farce-and-a half. The Women's Guild is putting on a murder mystery. They're very earnest and not very good. Everything that can go wrong does."
The cast of five has a lot to do as each character tackles multiple roles. An additional challenge for the director is that she and three of her five cast members all are named Mary.
The cast includes Mary Purdy as "Phoebe Reece," Clarissa Rook, "Regine," the French maid, "Pat Bishop," "Letitia Bishop" and "Mr. Goodbody."
Mary Paquin plays "Thelma Greenwood," "Daphne" and "Rose."
Mary Anne Bennett portrays "Audrey," "Doreen, Violet," "Mrs. King," and "Joan." Erin Guthrie plays "Felicity," "Pawn" the butler and "Colonel King."
Jim Nordby takes on the roles of "Gordon Pugh" and "Inspector O'Reilly."
The story behind the production is that a group of women decide to put on a murder mystery. They portray themselves and the characters in the mystery, making it that staple of farce, as play-within-a play. As the play unfolds, the four guild members are forced to enlist the stage manager as an actor, as well.
"They mean well, but everything goes wrong," Ms. Jameson said. "The set falls down, the chessboard falls apart, the props don't appear and, when they do, they are wrong. If something can go wrong, it will. Our problem is to make it look as if we didn't intend it, that we didn't mean to be so bad."
The play was originally set in England, but Ms. Jameson has brought it back home.
"We're not attempting British accents," she said. "However, they are putting on a British play, so every once in a while, they try to put on a British accent and don't succeed very well."
The cast works very hard at being bad. There are multiple costume changes, mistaken identities and one woman who plays only men's roles. For Ms. Jameson, who directed the play more than a decade ago, that's all part of the fun.
"The cast loves it," she said. "It's just funny. You can't watch it without laughing."
That's not a bad thing in the middle of a Florida summer.
The Titusville Playhouse performs at the Emma Parrish Theatre, 301 Julia St., Titusville. "The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery" will be presented from July 27-Aug. 5. Tickets are $16 and $14 in the balcony.
For ticket information, call the box office at (321) 268-3711 Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. or visit the website www.titusvilleplayhouse.com.