Review: The Mystery of Edward Drood

Jake Potter (ME ’16)

On Sunday the seventh, I had the dubious pleasure of watching the Music Hall Royale’s presentation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  The Cooper Dramatic Society usually puts on an excellent show in the Rose Auditorium, but for some reason a guest company was brought in for the season.  I had certain… reservations about how well a new company might perform in our beloved space, especially one with actors coming from as far as Brooklyn College.

The story of The Mystery of Edwin Drood is an interesting one, as it is one of Charles Dickens’ last works and therefore unfinished.  Thus, the Music Hall Royale took it upon themselves to complete it on stage.  The performance (when not interrupted by the company’s rather questionable work ethic and drunk players) was excellent, making full use of a minimalist set and talented players including the powerful vocalist Clive Paget (and his bulge) as Drood’s uncle John Jasper and the break-out star Phillip Bax as Bazzard.  Bax’s performance was so well received that the audience chose to have him continue in the story as the detective Dick Datchery.  The guest from Brooklyn College, Erica Umhoefer, was another audience favorite, playing the murderess Princess Puffer.  The actress for Edwin Drood, Miss Alice Nutting, was thoroughly enjoyable and a convincing young man.  Her role, unfortunately, was cut short by her character’s mysterious murder.  There was a bit of a row in the theater and some profanity thrown about, and Miss Nutting stormed out of the theater.

Unfortunately for the Music Hall Royale, a night which ended with great applause, the departure of the disagreeable Miss Nutting, and only a small bit of incest and lechery also included the rewriting of the thoroughly thought-out ending that the audience chose for the play.  In a triumphant career-ending move, Miss Nutting burst forth from the mausoleum, declaring (in an generally disagreed-upon manner) that Edwin Drood was in fact alive, and probably making more money a night than any of the other actors.

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