I have practically made a career out of playing detectives. From arresting Colonel Mustard to guessing the end of The Sixth Sense three minutes after it was revealed, my intuitive genius is unmatched. I’m often asked to play detectives from the safety of the audience in order to limit my scathing interrogations. Now, it would certainly be better if I were ONstage or ONscreen, but there are no small parts, only small paychecks.
This weekend, my detecting skills were in high demand with two bookings. First, I solved the mystery of the death of a nuclear physicist in Black Coffee at Henrico Theatre Company and then I got to the bottom of the stabbing of Johnny Depp in Murder on the Orient Express at Cine Bistro.
There were indeed similarities, but there were also distinct differences, like comparing two egg yolks after they have been scrambled. For instance, the food at CB was noticeably better than at HTC. At CB, I was served a delightful hamburger and fries with a small cup of ketchup. I even won a free box of peanut M&Ms for my lifetime achievements at CB, including my performance as Monique in “How can I fit three plates on this little tray table?” and my turn as Monique in “Why yes, I know this popcorn is large enough to feed a whole kindergarten class, but there are free refills, so I will have one.” In contrast, at HTC, I had two pieces of Trident gum that I found in my purse.
There was a bit of a Poirot mustache stand-off between Tom Eichler at HTC and Kenneth Branagh at CB. I’m not sure it was a fair fight, as Kenneth benefitted from Hollywood make-up artists and gratuitous close-ups. While Tom’s mustache was enviably curly, it did not read to the back rows. However, Kenneth’s face toupee was thick and layered and would read to the back of the solar system. I also venture to guess that Tom’s mustache was actually real, while Kenneth had to rely on movie “magic.” Kudos to Tom for out-testosteroning Mr. Branagh. And myself , for that matter. I had to depend on one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Photo-Booth-Party-Mustache-Glitter/dp/B00H5ACTXE/ref=sr_1_4_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1510548321&sr=8-4&keywords=mustache+on+a+stick
But to more important things . . . my performances. In Black Coffee¸ I quickly deduced that the coffee was the culprit. In watching Murder on the Orient Express, I was confused at first by the Israeli setting, but once everyone boarded the train, I intuited that someone would die of unnatural causes. Spoiler alert . . . correct on both counts. Please don’t feel bad if it took you longer, I am a professional.
Having dispatched the mysteries in short order, I could focus on the intricacies of my costars’ performances. I learned several things of note. First, Penelope Cruz was doing perhaps one of the worst Swedish accents I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. She sounded downright Spanish. Second, there is a correct and incorrect way of arranging sticks in a vase. Now, the uninformed might feel that the sticks looked the same before and after being neatened, and the truly ignorant might wonder why someone would put a bunch of sticks in a vase to begin with, but I took the oddity as an opportunity to learn and judge. Finally, Hercules is properly pronounced Hercule. I am glad to hear this and might consider going back to the original spelling of my name as Moniques. I grew tired of people mispronouncing it, but the resurgence of Agathas Christies gives me hope.
It’s hard for me to pick in which mystery I gave the better performance. It’s like when I had to choose between my smoothie additives in Monique’s Choice. If forced, I would have to say perhaps my finer work was in Black Coffee. There was a bigger audience for my performance, including my costars who were clearly feeding off my passionate portrayal. While I believe I was equally stirring in Orient Express, I think I somewhat dwarfed Michelle Pfieffer’s work, and she appeared a bit intimidated by my skill. I was told that Michelle was not actually in attendance at CB, but instead was a 2-D figure on a movie screen, but I am not stupid. She looked directly into my eyes, as if asking me how does one chew the scenery like I was chewing my popcorn shrimp and calamari.
Indeed, I did enjoy my suspenseful weekend and have taken to playing clarinet music from my cell phone as I move around doing mundane tasks. I feel it adds a tense atmosphere to my Zumba Acupuncture sessions. Tenseness may seem unwanted if you’ve never seen my vast range of nervous/agitated facial expressions, but once you have been so blessed, you will wish the world was as tense as an Agatha Christie mystery.