The Case of the Odd Shaped Gas TanksThe Shadowbox Theatre recently premiered “The Case of the Odd Shaped Gas Tanks,” a production by The Purple Theatre Company that has notably elevated their repertoire. Written and directed by Joey Ouellette, the play stands out as a comedy/mystery that cleverly navigates through the complexities of human nature and the absurdities of life.

Ouellette not only helms the play but also stars as the lead, Sergeant Liam Heffrendaun, bringing to the stage a compelling performance that captures the essence of a disoriented lawman adapting to life in the small and insular hamlet of New Drummondville.

 

n the heart of “The Case of the Odd Shaped Gas Tanks,” we find the quaintly bizarre world of New Drummondville to be more than a mere backdrop, but a catalyst for the unfolding tale. Ouellette’s script introduces us to Sergeant Heffrendaun’s unexpected descent into the town’s peculiarities after a career in the metropolitan police force. The plot thickens when missing gas tanks appear at the center of a peculiar cold case, which sets the stage for an investigation that intertwines the fates of Heffrendaun and a cadre of town residents.

Among them is Mrs. Matilda McGregor, portrayed by Mary Grace Weir, a character whose sharp intellect and observational prowess prove indispensable. The duo’s chemistry channels the classic detective partnership, infusing the narrative with equal parts of comedy and suspense. As the mystery unravels, the audience is invited into a complicated plot of twists and turns, punctuated by moments of genuine human connection and comedic relief that keeps them guessing until the final curtain call. It’s worth noting that the show is so engaging that I heard four different audience members quietly voice out their guesses as to who the culprit might be.

As Sergeant Liam Heffrendaun, Joey Ouellette brings a mix of smarts and humor to “The Case of the Odd Shaped Gas Tanks.” Right from the start, his character is intriguing and funny, making it easy for the audience to get on board. Ouellette’s timing is spot-on, and he plays the character with a kind of honest simplicity that’s both refreshing and engaging. He gives Heffrendaun depth, showing us a man who’s more than just his badge, making the laughs come as easily as the moments that make you think a bit.

Mary Grace Weir’s performance as Mrs. Matilda McGregor is a standout in “The Case of the Odd Shaped Gas Tanks,” infusing the production with vibrancy and wit. Weir brings to life the character with delightful flair, painting Mrs. McGregor not just as the archetypal sleuth’s sidekick but as a force in her own right. Her ability to inject each scene with both fun and subtle depth showcases a keen understanding of the character’s nuances. Through her portrayal, Weir provides a dynamic counterpart to Ouellette’s Heffrendaun, resulting in a partnership that is both entertaining and richly layered, capturing the audience’s imagination throughout the performance.

Damie Oliver brings commendable energy and distinction to her dual roles in “The Case of the Odd Shaped Gas Tanks.” She switches between the personas of Lottie Ladewig and Patricia Pargill, crafting each character with a unique essence that makes them stand out individually, enriching the fabric of the play.

Marnie Gare, too, demonstrates her skill in her dual portrayal of Betsy Veronich and Norma Schiller. She adeptly navigates the complexities of her characters, creating clear and distinct identities that serve the narrative and keep the audience invested in their journeys.

Linda Collard, Cheri Scratch, and Jaz Morneau round out the cast, contributing robustly to the play’s comedic and narrative texture. Collard’s Fleur Ketchum adds a touch of eccentricity, while Scratch’s Catherine Dearness brings a sharpness that complements the play’s wit. Morneau, as the singular Gerheardt, brings a unique flavor to the ensemble, ensuring the secondary characters are as integral to the play’s humor and dynamism as the leads.

The setting of New Drummondville is as much a character as the cast, its peculiarities providing a backdrop that contributes significantly to the narrative. The production design brings the town to life, encapsulating the essence of a rural setting shadowed by mystery. The simplistic set with hand drawn signs for school, police and other buildings, along with imagined sounds, settings and even the police car, give the show a surreal framework that surprisingly works extremely well within the body of the performance. It’s modern classical theatre at its finest and let’s the imagination take over.

Ouellette’s script succeeds in laying out a mystery where the clues are visible yet the resolution is not immediately obvious, encouraging the audience to engage deeply with the unfolding story. And that makes for a fun night out.

“The Case of the Odd Shaped Gas Tanks” promises to engage audiences with its remaining shows on November 9, 10, and 11. This play is a testament to the company’s commitment to character development and narrative craftsmanship. The cast’s performances elevate the piece, making it a great piece of theatre for those who appreciate the intricacies of a well-executed comedy/mystery.

For further details, tickets, and showtimes, visit the Purple Theatre Company on Facebook.

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