Saturday, October 20, 2012
Who Killed Eddie Munster and Fester Addams?
This month, I've been posting excerpts from my Addams Family Mystery. If you haven't read my last two posts, I suggest you start here. Last week's installment ended with FBI agent Marilyn Munster's interrogation of the suspects. At the end of the interrogation scene, the audience are given several minutes to fill out their resolution forms. Typically, all of the actors leave the room during this time, so the audience can't badger them with more questions. When the resolution forms have been completed and collected, the actors return for the resolution scene.
As I explained in last week's post, it is the custom for victims in our mysteries to "die" near an exit, so that the "body" may be easily removed. At Dakota's Steakhouse, where An Addams Family Mystery was first performed twelve years ago, the séance table was on a raised platform on the opposite end of the dining room from the exit. Because of the logistics involved in getting a body (a heavy body) down off the platform and through the dining room to the exit, it was decided to just cover Fester with a tablecloth and leave him "onstage" for the rest of the show. This worked so well that we kept it in for future productions of the show. Director John Diesel also came up with the brilliant idea of having Wednesday give Fester a new face during the interrogation scene:
I think the biggest challenge I have ever had to face as an actor was to sit perfectly still and play a corpse for what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality about half an hour. It was particularly difficult when the other actors were out of the room, and the audience were filling out their resolution forms. (We always announced that they would be given five minutes, but it usually ended up being closer to ten or fifteen.) Audience members would come up and examine the corpse, saying things like, "He's breathing!" (What did they expect!?) Some of them even poked me. It was sheer torture, and I couldn't wait for the rest of the actors to return for the resolution scene, because then I knew that the show was almost over...
MARILYN: Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to solve this mystery. Who killed Eddie Munster and Fester Addams? Members of the family, as I call out your names, please take the same seat you had during the séance: Gomez Addams, Morticia Addams, Grandmama Addams, Wednesday Addams. I was sitting here, on Fester's right. The seats were marked with place cards. Morticia, who was responsible for our seat assignments?
MARILYN: Grandmama, was there any reason that you put us in these particular seats?
GRANDMAMA: Not really. I usually make it boy-girl-boy-girl, but there were too many girls. Why?
MARILYN: Well, it seems to me that who was seated where is sort of important.
MORTICIA: Oh? And why is that?
MARILYN: First of all, neither Wednesday nor I could have done it. We were both seated next to Fester; the trajectory would be wrong.
GOMEZ: That's true.
MARILYN: That leaves three people: Morticia, Gomez and Grandmama. Now, Gomez says that something tickled his nose, causing him to sneeze. Is that correct?
MARILYN: There's one thing that hasn't been explained: the sound Wednesday heard before Gomez sneezed. "FFFT." Morticia, you didn't hear it, did you?
MARILYN: Grandmama, you were sitting next to Wednesday. Perhaps you can enlighten us?
GRANDMAMA: What? All right, so I have a gas problem. That's what happens when you get old.
MARILYN: I don't think what Wednesday heard was a gas problem. What she heard was the sound of you puffing something in Gomez's face—probably pepper.
GRANDMAMA: That's ridiculous!
MARILYN: I would guess the pepper was packed in a small tube of paper, which you concealed in the left corner of your mouth. After blowing it at Gomez to initiate his sneeze, you swallowed it, waited for the sneeze to give you your diversion, shot Fester, then dropped the gun.
GRANDMAMA: You're crazy! The peroxide has affected your brain!
MARILYN: Why don't we take a look in Gomez's mustache? I'm sure we'll find a few flakes of pepper. But only on the right side—the side you were sitting on.
GRANDMAMA: I'm sorry, Gomez. The bitch is right.
MARILYN: You killed Eddie to stop him from marrying Wednesday. That much I can understand. But to kill your own son…
GOMEZ: That wasn't very motherly of you, Mama.
GRANDMAMA: I know, Gomez, I know. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I loved Fester. But I had to do it.
MARILYN: Because he was about to reveal that you were Eddie's murderer?
GRANDMAMA: You think you have all the answers, don't you, Blondie? Well, you're wrong! I would never have killed Fester to protect myself. I did it to protect him—and you.
MARILYN: Protect me? From what?
GRANDMAMA: From the curse!
MARILYN: What do you mean?
GRANDMAMA: I saw the way he was looking at you, mooning over you. I'd seen him that way before, you see—when he was in love with Lily Munster!
MARILYN: Fester and Aunt Lily?
GRANDMAMA: That's right. It was twenty-one years ago. Fester was young and foolish, and your Aunt Lily…
GOMEZ: Was a fox!
GOMEZ: Well, she was.
MARILYN: Aunt Lily? A fox?
GRANDMAMA: More accurately, a wolf. Lily had werewolf blood, and so naturally she was drawn to Fester, who carried the same curse.
GOMEZ: Fester was a werewolf?
GRANDMAMA: Not full-blooded, but he had enough of the wolf in him to be a problem when the moon was full—and during mating season.
MORTICIA: That explains that one magical night.
GOMEZ: What one magical night?
MORTICIA: It's time I told you, darling. It happened about ten years ago. There was a gorgeous full moon, and I decided to go for a walk in the cemetery. I came upon Fester by the old mausoleum. The smell of deadly nightshade was in the air, and there was a strange light in Fester's eyes. Our passions ignited—we couldn't control ourselves!
GOMEZ: Tish! How could you?
MORTICIA: I don't know. I'm sorry darling. At that moment, there was just something about Fester that I couldn't resist. Je ne sais quoi, mais oh-la-la!
MORTICIA: Later, mon cher.
MARILYN: Of course! Pheromones!
GOMEZ: Is that French?
MARILYN: Pheromones are chemical substances given off by an animal to attract the opposite sex. We humans have all but lost them—or covered them up with cologne, deodorants and aftershave. But in werewolves they must be much stronger. That explains why I was attracted to Fester.
GRANDMAMA: Well, whatever you call it, no mortal can resist it. It was what drew me to Fester's father.
GOMEZ: Papa was a werewolf?
GRANDMAMA: Not your father, Gomez. I never told you, but you and Fester are half-brothers.
GOMEZ: Mama, this all comes as something of a shock. Is there anything else you haven't told us?
GRANDMAMA: There's one more thing, but I think everyone's figured it out.
GOMEZ: I haven't. What is it?
MARILYN: Eddie was Fester's son.
GOMEZ: Caramba! Did Fester know?
GRANDMAMA: Please! You know how naïve Fester was. He believed babies were delivered by the stork until he was thirty. But he had an instinctive liking for Eddie; he was always defending him. And I'm sure Eddie was a good boy. But he was a werewolf, and I couldn't allow him to marry Wednesday—not after the hell I went through with Fester's father.
MARILYN: Did you kill him, too?
GRANDMAMA: He begged me to. It was the only way to end the curse. He wanted me to kill Fester, too, but I couldn't do it.
MARILYN: Until now.
GRANDMAMA: Until now. And now the curse is finally ended.
MARILYN: I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I'll have to take you in, Mrs. Addams.
GRANDMAMA: You do what you gotta do, Blondie. Can I speak to Wednesday first?
MARILYN: Of course.
GRANDMAMA: Wednesday, I'm sorry about all of this. Someday, you'll forgive me, and you'll find someone else. But please make sure he's not a werewolf.
MORTICIA: Or an insurance salesman.
GOMEZ: A lawyer would be good. Your grandmama could use one of those right now.
MARILYN: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the Addams Family Mystery!
At this point, Fester would stiffly "rise from the dead" for bows, and the winner—the person who came closest to the correct solution—would be announced.
How close did you come to solving the mystery?