THE UNEXPECTED GUEST: One of the nice things about Agatha Christie's Unexpected Guest is how expected so much of it is. There's a reason in the publishing world such mysteries are called "cozies." The mysterious butler. The mysterious stranger. The mysterious heroine. Christie's stock characters are all on hand, and the Sands Theater Company's players keep the puzzle ticking along.
Christie, as usual, is talky and repetitive but the actors, under the direction of Jeff Downey, are given interesting things to do to hold the audience's attention. Especially notable: Matthew Carroll, who plays a mentally handicapped man with touching finesse, and Rene Sands, who brings a fine sense of gravity to the murder victim's elderly mother.
Additional emphasis on the stranger's outsiderness, compared to the close-knit family's tangled relationships, would have stressed the play's theme more and raised the dramatic stakes in the classic Christie denouement, but I suspect most of the audience was busy enough just trying to figure out who done it. I know I was.
DETAILS: 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and Thursday, Aug. 19; 2:30 p.m. Sundays; through Aug. 29. Athens Theatre, 124 N. Florida Ave., DeLand. $16; $14 seniors; $10 students. 386-736-1500, athenstheatre.org.
On a side note, the Athens Theater in DeLand, where the Sands Theater Co. players perform, is a lovely venue for a show. We're lucky in Central Florida that our community theaters -- such as the Bay Street Players at the State Theater in Eustis, the Garden Theatre actors in Winter Garden -- and the Sands group in DeLand have such attractive homes.Copyright © 2015, CT Now