One of the fun things about the story of Base Instruments is that it’s a Fair Play Whodunnit. That means it’s a mystery where all the necessary clues are presented to the audience, so they have the chance to solve it along with the detectives.

Andrew Prentice, Samantha LeVangie, and Elizabeth Hunter reading Base Instruments.

This is important for the June 10th staged reading of Base Instruments with Bare Bones. Many people like to let staged readings wash over them, but when the story is a mystery, it prompts the audience to see if they can figure it out for themselves. But the makes a new challenge for the actors who are reading it. A whodunnit with lots of twists and turns often involves a lot of detail, with the dialogue supplying most of the information. That can lead to a lot of exposition, which can easily all blur together and lose the important clues.

Circe Rowan reading as Mary Stone.

That means the actors have to take extra care in the scenes where the characters are working through the information they’ve gathered to solve the crime. It has to be kept interesting enough so that no one zones out, but also clear enough so that all the clues come across. And finally, for the sake of verisimilitude, it has to sound natural, like the characters actually are detectives sharing information with each other trying to figure things out.

The combination of all this is the way to get the listeners engaged in unraveling the plot. I love when the audience is hanging on the details of the story, trying to pick apart what’s really going on! That’s the fun of going to all the trouble of putting together a Fair Play Whodunnit.

The staged reading of Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will go up on June 10th at 8PM at with the Bare Bones reading series, brought to you by Theatre@First.