For all its ghastly subject matter, there's something inherently comforting about a classic murder mystery. Perhaps the satisfaction derives from the thrill of playing detective against an oddly amicable lineup of suspects. How many murder mysteries, for example, take place on an affluent estate amidst a gallery of ever-so-civilized villainy? Warped motives, red herrings, and victims with shadowy histories: These are the essential ingredients of the murder mystery as mixed by Agatha Christie. The Hollow, now being produced by Theatre in the Round, exemplifies Christie's mastery of the whodunit. When a serial womanizer is found murdered at a country home during a high-society soirée, there's no shortage of suspects roaming the grounds, including the victim's wronged wife and ex-lover. When the local inspector endeavors to discern the truth, astute audience members will no doubt already be testing theories with every turn of the intricately plotted narrative. Theatre in the Round's intimate arena stage puts audiences at the front row of the crime scene, interpreting every clue until the work's climactic reveal. Yes, murder mysteries might not occupy the loftiest reputation in the dramatic world, but few genres can engage an audience quite so reliably, arguing once again that nothing entertains quite like a tasteful case of murder.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: May 25. Continues through June 24, 2012