A postcard review of Confederation Theatre Society’s Happy Death Day

Caroline Russell-King takes a look at Confederation Theatre Society’s production of Louis B. Hobson’s Happy Death Day, playing at the Pumphouse Theatres.

Show: Happy Death Day.

Playwright: Louis B. Hobson.

Production Company/Theatre space: Confederation Theatre Society, Joyce Doolittle Theatre, Pumphouse Theatres.

Length: 2 Acts (Two hours with one intermission).

Genre/s: Murder Mystery.

Premise: It would do no good to reveal too much of the story. Suffice to say, the return of the prodigal son, Barrett Welford, to the bosom of his wealthy, powerful family ignites old grudges, feuds, and complications with wills.

Why this play? Why now?: A reminder that we don’t need a lot of bells, whistles, projections and computers to tell a story; just a well-crafted play.

Curiosities: While I appreciate not having the “brown shuffles,” as I call them, where we sit and watch an eternity of moving furniture, props, sweeping, wiping in half light, I wondered if the only alternative is to have characters do unmotivated business to facilitate a scene change. I also wondered why one character stood on a chair. However these were minor blips.

Notable lines: “That was role playing …”

Notable writing: Hobson artfully weaves his plot, checking all the genre boxes with the prerequisite list of suspects, motives, clues, and red herrings.

Notable performances: Jon Martin keeps us guessing as to his level of wellness given he has just been released from a mental hospital.

Notable design/Production: The simplicity of the set hints of opulence without being an overproduced mess on that small stage thanks to Cory Nelson and Brent Brennan.

Notable direction: Hobson is an old pro at keeping all seven chess pieces moving on the board, navigating plot twists, and shifting characters’ gears.

One reason to see this show: On a cold weekend there isn’t a better way to spend the evening than with a warm and cozy, classical murder.

Happy Death Day runs until Dec. 1 at the Pumphouse Theatres.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here