Hit N.S. comedic mystery lands with finesse at Bedford Players

habit of murder 2
Alex Smith, Trina Corkum and Elaine Melanson in Habit of Murder. (Bruce Goodick)

The Bedford Players’ production of Joanne Miller’s comedic mystery Habit of Murder is a great chance to see this popular show.

Habit of Murder was first commissioned from the Halifax author and staged by the Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro as part of a trilogy.  This production keeps the setting in Parrsboro;  however,  this story nestles comfortably into any small town where everyone knows everyone’s secrets – or do they?

Key to this heart-warming, funny production is Elaine Melanson’s stellar performance as Sister Vivian Salter, portrayed at the Ship by both Mary-Colin Chisholm and Martha Irving.

Melanson is a petite, sturdy, feisty, deeply engaging Sister Salter with a great grasp on the sleuthing nun’s dry wit and comic observations.

In Habit of Murder Sister Salter has been called back to the small town she fled for academia to care for her father. Meanwhile the affable, bumbling RCMP officer Buddy,  whose idea of happiness is a Tim’s honey cruller,  has two murders on his hands.

A body has been discovered in the local church, supposedly haunted by a tragic minister’s wife, and the local hockey coach has been mysteriously murdered. Buddy, to his future torment, asks Sister Salter to help.

Alex Smith as Buddy is a lovable, comical chap in a cast that is equally strong with Rebecca Marriott as the loopy, overly-dramatic but sweet Sunny, Trina Corkum as the peppy, flirtatious nurse Winnie, Rafael Franco as the hockey coach,  Jacob Bradbury as the mysteriously simple, silent Duck and Jon Peirce and Sydney Fleet as two bumbling  construction workers.

Miller’s play has been re-mounted in Canada because it’s well-written with a lot of good humour from cornball to Sister Salter’s caustic comments. The solid, labyrinthian mystery keeps you guessing right until the end.

Sister Salter teaches her community a thing or two about faith and truth but she also learns something about herself along the way which makes this drama richer.

Habit of Murder is smoothly directed with good character and comic balance by producer, actor and playwright Lita Llewellyn, who shared in the set design of church and green-walled nursing home with Dave Parsons and Beth Spratt. The fine costumes are by Terri Smith-Fraser.

It’s great that The Bedford Players are presenting a Nova Scotia play. Later this month The Dartmouth Players produce  Wendy Lill’s The Fighting Days, about the women’s suffrage movement in Canada, March 28 to April 13.

Habit of Murder runs to March 16, Thursday to Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets are online (www.bedfordplayers.ca). The theatre is fittingly in the church hall of All Saints Anglican Church, 1408 Bedford Highway.

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