First the bad news.

First the bad news.


If you didn't see the Spoon River Valley Drama Club's production of "But Why Bump Off Barnaby?" you won't know who did it. That's because the show closed Saturday.


Now the good news.


If you did see it you saw the show you not only watched an interesting whodunnit, you also got a big dose of laughter.


Director Kenny Knox put his young cast through their paces and the results were an entertaining evening of crime and comedy. Witty dialogue and unexpected plot twists combined to give the audience a memorable night of sleuthing and mirth.


Suffice it to say each of the characters had some flaws. But the actors playing them did not.


At the top of the list is Caleb Harrison as a less than competent detective (to be fair, the character was really a crime reporter). Harrison is nicely understated as he works to corral the rest of the group, which is akin to herding cats. Alternately bemused and controlling, Harrison provides laughs by actually being in the moment as opposed to mugging and telegraphing "this is funny — laugh."


He is matched by Hayley Olson who shows her chops as a somewhat dim young lady who inadvertently brings to light some of the most intriguing clues of the mystery. Contrary to popular belief, it takes talent and intelligence to truly pull off a not-so-bright character, and Olson shows both talent and intelligence in her work.


On the other side of the spectrum is Darya Andreyevna as a no-nonsense actress who cuts through the garbage to get to the heart of the matter. Playing the basically straight woman in a cast of crazies is no mean feat, and Andreyevna pulls it off with no problem.


Laughter comes from a pair of shall we say more mature characters played by Emma Braten and Olivia Semande who used their roles' disabilities in a humorous way without condescension or mean-spiritedness. Both have excellent comic timing and know when to take command of the stage and when to hang back and let others have their moments while still remaining alive in the scene.


Extreme but also understated performances come from Nattalee Pierce as a woman with a driving passion and Elena Herrera as a silent presence who still makes herself known. Pierce is excellent with the one line comebacks, and Herrera combines an expressive face with her ability to communicate without saying a word.


But this is not just a woman's play, and Aidan Kenyon and Nathaniel Jennings give good accounts of themselves as a stodgy old man and an earnest young man respectively. Kenyon is fine as a confused but still formal gentleman, while Jennings give a good account as someone who isn't quite sure of himself but who also harbors an important secret.


And what's a good mystery without a couple of servants added to the mix. Cayden Boyer and Jessica Tompkins fill those roles admirably. Boyer is a rather mysterious  butler with another big secret, and Tompkins is a saucy maid with a knack for cutting to the chase, and both add another aspect to the show.


The question, of course, in any mystery is who did it and why. Unfortunately, if you didn't see the show you don't know. And I'm not going to tell you.


That'll teach you to miss a show.