- The title will grab your attention. It sets the tone that
we’re in for a tongue-in-cheek mystery.
Murder Tax-Deductible?” written by Katherine Beeson, a local
playwright whose “In Lieu of Flowers” intrigued us last
season, opened last weekend at West Allis Central High School,
the home of the West Allis Players.
how to avoid them is a topic that interests many citizens,
especially in April, so it is fitting that this play’s
premiere occurs at this time. We find that though we are
trying to figure out who killed Brian Merring, in the process
we learn that many of the characters are self-serving schemers
and willing to bend their ethics to benefit their own
interests. We are not uplifted as to the moral quality of
opens in a spacious office where one secretary, Bella
Matthews, serves two accountants, Nathaniel Dett and Merring.
We only meet two characters in this first scene - Bella and
Merring’s ex-wife Carol, though we hear someone barking
orders at her from behind one of the closed doors. When Bella
leaves her shift, she does not lock the door because a client
is scheduled to come in at 10 p.m. that evening.
cleaning lady, Helen Coner, a lively character who talks and
sings while she works, and in her monologue, we learn
something about the personal habits of Dett and Merring. She
notes that one man is neat; the other, sloppy, an observation
which turns out to be key in solving the mystery.
particular evening, she notices that their sense of order has
been reversed. She also discovers, to her horror, that a dead
body is blocking entrance into Brian Merring’s office.
thorough, officious detective Phillip Bartholomew and the
astute Officer Andrew Henry. The detective
proceeds to interview Helen. The building owner, Barry
Silks, also appears at this time. Both are questioned, and
Helen, memorably rendered by Marilyn Daleiden, provides the
investigators with crucial details; and us, with a few laughs.
enforcement looks for a motive, two disgruntled clients, Harry
Perkins and Melvin S. Temple, are also brought in for
questioning, as well as Bella, Carol, Barry and Merring’s
partner, Dett. An interesting twist occurs here, but I’ll
scene holds many more surprises, which is why mysteries are so
named. I never guessed who would end up being the guilty
party, but maybe the ardent mystery buffs did. However, as
patrons were leaving the theater, I heard many commenting how
they, too, had been fooled.
following actors deserve mention as standouts in the cast:
Sara Pforr as Bella, Marilyn Daleiden as Helen, Art Carter as
Detective Bartholomew, Jay Saugstad as Officer Henry, Bill
Kaiser as Harry Perkins and Cory Klein as Melvin S. Temple.
the questions had been answered and the mystery solved, a
clever little addendum was added as the curtain closed. It
perfectly fit the tone set by the title. This is a play
designed to amuse us.
Murder Tax-Deductible?” continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday and
Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at West Allis Central High School,
8516 W. Lincoln Ave. For tickets, call 414-299-0384 or visit