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There’s murder. There are plenty of jokes. And it all happens on this midstate stage

Eric, played by Jae Norton, and Victoria Van Roth, played by Felicity Watts, have an argument in Warner Robins Little Theatre’s production of “Death by Design.”
Eric, played by Jae Norton, and Victoria Van Roth, played by Felicity Watts, have an argument in Warner Robins Little Theatre’s production of “Death by Design.” Special to The Telegraph

Death and comedy are thrown together to weave a play that interjects humor, suspense and drama into a mystery that has to be solved in Death By Design playing Aug. 9-24 at the Warner Robins Little Theatre.

The two-hour play is set in 1932 during a weekend at an English country manor, the home of playwright Edward Bennett (played by Justin Harris) and his actress wife, Sorel (Erin Byington). They have received a poor review of their latest play and have retreated to their country home. Several odd friends come by and, eventually, someone gets killed, leaving everyone to have to figure out who committed the murder, director Patricia Phillips said.

Sorel has invited a member of Parliament, Walter Pearce (Stephen Hall), thinking he is a diplomat who she plans to have an affair with, all the while assuming her husband will not be there for the weekend. Another friend, a performance artist, Victoria Van Roth (Felicity Watts ) as well as a young radical, Eric (Jae Norton), who has been trying to convince Edward to write more socially significant plays, are also among the visitors. The maid, Bridget (Pam Baker), a fan of true crime stories who takes it upon herself to solve the murder, and chauffeur Jack (DeWayne Collins ), who cracks jokes, add to the mash of quirky characters, most having their own motives for murder, Phillips said.

The play was written in 2011 by Rob Urbinati.

“It was a homage to Agatha Christie and Noël Coward,” Phillips said.. “I love murder mysteries and love Noël Coward. It’s a good combination. It’s a murder mystery and comedy. It’s funny and has fun word play in it.”

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Phillips refers to the play as somewhat like the 1980s movie “Clue,” adding that it’s ”somewhat orderly and it goes wrong … with all this crazy stuff happening.” In addition to the mystery, she said there will be a surprise guest, a lot of quirky characters, lots of banter, and the actors will be using British accents.

“They are working on British accents. ... They are going to give it a try,” she said, adding that there are lots of big words and difficult phrases to get the tongue around, which makes it even more challenging adding the accent.

Hall said his character is a “strong, firm political being,” but his favorite character is the chauffeur because he always had a good joke to crack and keeps things lively. He said that he believes the audience will definitely relate to the play because it’s about a couple “who is in love but sometimes struggles to keep that love going.”

“They try to do different things to impress each other, then eventually realize that they love each other for who they are,” Hall said.

“Death by Design”

Where: Warner Robins Little Theatre, 502 S Pleasant Hill Road, Warner Robins

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 9-10, 15-17 and 22-24; 2:30 p.m. Aug. 18

Cost: $16, $14 active military, seniors 60 and older and students with ID

Information: 478-929-4579; www.wrlt.org

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