The NoneSuch Playmakers theater company is offering up an early Halloween treat as they transport their audiences back to Victorian England for their new original mystery, “The Golden Dawn Murders.”
The year is 1890. During a lavish dinner at Calderwood House, a remote family manor, prominent financier Lord Peter Alston (Brack Llewellyn) is shot dead on his own doorstep. Chief Constable Alarbus Jones (Scott Carpenter) is summoned to the scene, where he encounters an elite group of dinner guests and an odd symbol on the drawing room wall. It’s the emblem of The Order of the Golden Dawn, one of several secret societies that existed in the United Kingdom during Victorian times. Jones learns that most of those attending the dinner are members of this enigmatic group, but there seems to be no connection to the murder.
In the course of his investigation, Constable Jones encounters a young woman who was not on the guest list—Katherine Hadleigh (Rachel Macie), a former maid at Calderwood House. She tells Jones that the members of the Golden Dawn have a dangerous secret hidden behind their affluent exteriors—a secret that could bring down the British Empire. As the constable learns more about the mysterious order, he discovers that Miss Hadleigh has some shocking secrets of her own.
“Miss Hadleigh’s presence brings an element of the paranormal to our story,” said Brack Llewellyn, who wrote and directed the play. “No spoilers, though. We want the audience to make the discoveries along with Constable Jones.”
“The Golden Dawn Murders,” Llewellyn said, is a bit of a throwback to theatrical melodramas of the past.
“Most of the action takes place in one room. It’s an ensemble cast that includes some unsavory characters, a red herring or two and an unexpected ending,” Llewellyn said. “At its core the play is a whodunit, but there are larger implications for Jones as he delves into Miss Hadleigh’s allegations about the order. He’s a small town cop who finds himself in uncharted territory. We hope the audience will want to hiss at the villains and cheer for our intrepid constable.”
Besides Carpenter and Macie, the cast includes David Nielsen as textile millionaire Victor Baldridge; Christine Werner Booher as author Ann Scott Perry; NoneSuch newcomer Thomas Smith as prominent London surgeon Benjamin Stockton; Olivia Jessup as railroad heiress Melisande Portman; Brian Greene as American exporter Douglas Daughtry; Janelle Metzdorf as Lady Margaret, the murder victim’s icy widow; Branden Macie as engineering genius Hamish Upton; Jonathan Carpenter as musical prodigy Owen Anderton; Meredith Dowdy as Millicent Atwater, the cook at the manor; and Toby Bunton as Merrick, the butler.
Performances of “The Golden Dawn Murders” are Friday Oct. 7 and Saturday Oct. 8 at 7 p.m., and Sunday Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. All performances will be held at the L.H. Jones Auditorium, 215 Jones School Road, in Mount Airy.
These are “pay what you can” performances. There is no set ticket price. Patrons are asked to pay only what fits their budgets. The Playmakers adopted “pay what you can” following the pandemic shutdown to make their shows accessible to more people, whatever their means. A portion of the proceeds will go to support the Jones Family Resource Center.