Tuesday, 19 November 2013

CLUED IN: First-time playwright Laveda Thompson takes the mystery route for her intriguing debut

HIT GIRL: "Accepting criticism is a huge exercise in trusting." Below, cast members enact a scene from Clue.

If Laveda Thompson the great philosopher is to be believed, there is no greater enigma than life itself. "I see life as a mystery. It's a great big mystery, and I think if you look closely enough, you realize there are clues," says the sweetly charming actress, playwright and producer, whose first play Clue, a clever dinner-theatre whodunit, ran over the course (pardon the pun) of the past two weekends at the Pantry Playhouse's Tree House Theatre to coincide with this year's incarnation of Restaurant Week. 

Get Laveda talking about all things mystery and suspense, and she immediately perks up, referencing her fine taste for everything and everyone from Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie ("She's in a class by herself") to Remington Steele and the fastidious Hercule Poirot ("My favourite detective of all time"). So little surprise that, in making her debut as a writer for the stage, she chose the intriguing/edge-of-your-seat route. 

"I thought the mystery format was so cool," she admits. "So for me it was about how do I infuse all of that in a way that is not off-putting but still communicates some of the essentials of what I believe." 

Trust me, she pulls it off commendably, spinning an engrossing tale centred on five strangers trapped in an abandoned house, and one of them could be a killer. Laveda says though the play draws on such dark themes as greed and murder and even infidelity, her initial inspiration for the piece came from the New Testament parable of The Sower and The Seed. Go figure. 

"I keep telling everyone that this thing was an exercise in faith," she tells me. And when it came to the script and being open to feedback and critiques of all temperature, Laveda says it amounted to a humbling experience. "You fall in love when you write things. You think, 'This is the best thing ever; it's perfect as it is," says the writer/actress, who holds down a full-time day job in product management at Grace Kennedy and whose stage credits include 2009's JMTC version of Dreamgirls. "But accepting criticism from your cast and crew is a huge exercise in trusting, knowing that they have the best interest for the production as much as you do."

>>Read the review: Clue boasts intricate plotting, strong acting

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