These three short plays all involve crime and they feature people so rotten, you don't care if they come to a bad end.
In “What It Looks Like” (2 m, 2 w), a trio of thieves sets out to rob a place where one of them is house-sitting. They hope to get away with the theft by arranging the scene to make it tell the story they want it to tell—that somebody from outside broke in. But none of the three is trustworthy, and, it turns out, neither is the owner who hired the house-sitter. Nothing is really what it looks like.
In “Mad Passionate Cliché” (1 m, 2 w), we seem to be witnessing nothing more than a work session between an experienced writer and a younger woman who wants to learn from her, but their conversation gradually reveals tangled relationships and a real murder plot. Twists and revelations keep the secrets of who knows what, who is planning to murder whom, and who ultimately succeeds, until the very last moments.
In “Taking Care of Business” (2 m, 2 w), we see a couple preparing for a dinner party. Soon, we see interlocking plots for each of them and their guests to murder one of the others. By the time the curtain falls, only one is left standing. Or is she?
These three stand-alone one-acts run about thirty minutes each. All three plays can be produced with the same basic set and the same four actors.
with Linda Berry
What inspired you to write this play?
As a mystery novelist, naturally I wanted to write about crime, and I set myself a different challenge for each play. How many twists could I put into a short play? Could I figure out a way for everybody in the play to kill somebody else? Can all the villains get what's coming to them?
What's your favorite part or line in the play? Why?
Parts of each of these plays still make me laugh. One favorite part is in "What It Looks Like" where the inept burglars reveal to the audience (but not themselves) the location of the treasure they're after. Why? It just seems so RIGHT.
Where did the characters come from? Are they based on people you know?
All three plays were what I call plot driven--meaning that I thought of the gimmick and then invented characters to make it work, much like a puzzle. I love playing with the notion that what people say is often at odds with what they mean and what they do, and trying to surprise the audience with the contrast. I don't want to think any of these people are like people I know.
What did you try to achieve with this play?
I had no goals beyond engaging an audience in the puzzles, entertaining them along the way, and rewarding them by letting them see villains getting what they deserve.
Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
I do like twisted plots and trying to keep the audience guessing.