Murder by the Book

Written by:

Laura Teasdale

Cast Size:
8

Roles For:

  • Indigenous Peoples: 8
  • LGBTQ+: 6
  • Men: 3
  • People of Colour: 8
  • People with Disabilities: 8
  • Women: 5

Genre:

Comedy
Mystery

Themes:

Murder

Length:

75 min.

Year Written:

2023

Synopsis:

The town of Two Spruce is about to lose their beloved library. A team of volunteer actors come to its financial rescue by staging a murder mystery. But on opening night a real murder most foul threatens to thwart their fundraiser. Lucy the Librarian and a team of quirky volunteer actors scramble to solve the crime before the curtain rises and the library is lost forever.

Characters:

Lucy Nickel (M)- Our hero. Librarian and reluctant stage manager turned reluctant sleuth. Sometimes it seems like she’s the only sane one in the bunch.

Hillary Shilling (Y)- Challenger. Reformer. The janitor of the library. She’s harsh and intimidating. Plays the role of Wendy Sheckle -The nerdish ingénue & cliché screamer.

Sarah Sovereign (M)- The victim. Incredibly wealthy and sooo out of touch with ordinary people. Plus she’s a terrible actor.
Plays the role of Sally Guilder – former mean girl and also victim in the play within the play.

Shelagh O’Coin(O)- Fool. Aspiring playwright. She writes shoddy self-published novels. Maybe she never read a book in her life.
Plays the role of Linda Pence- AKA Mrs. P, a drunk who calls others on their bullshit.

Steve Quid (Y)- Gold digger. Vain. Charmer & flatterer. He comes from lost wealth.
Plays the role of Walter Thruppence- The lawyer who becomes the sleuth of the play within the play…but might also be the murderer!

Danny Farthing (M)- Cop (Officer Farthing). He is debilitatingly shy except when on the community theatre stage. He is the town’s best actor.
Plays the role of Kirk Florin – a party animal

Bill Quarter (O)- Caregiver/peacemaker. Retired teacher. Pollyanna. Making tea and rubbing shoulders. Reads aloud to the kids every Saturday.
Plays the role of Rocky Bender- The hippie from a couple grades above Sally at school. He’s the psychic.

Dorie Drachma (O)- A bit of a villain. Chair ‘man’ of the board of the library. She is so conservative; she doesn’t believe in changing the title to chairperson or woman. She’s the director of the play within the play, but has to step in and take the role of Sally.

First Produced:

Public Reading at Halifax Public Library (Project Launch Oct 30 2023) - Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre

Resources:

The play can be accessed through the Canadian Play Outlet.

Notes:

Clever “fill in the blank” jokes and adaptable casting make this script easy to produce in any community.

The writing of the play was sponsored by Mystery Novelist Louise Penny, so the script and rights are free.

The casting can be as flexible as possible. Three age groupings are suggested, young, middle and older marked by (Y), (M), (O). That is just to say, ideally some characters would seem older and younger than others, but what the ages are doesn’t matter. Nor does the ethnicity of any actor. The playwright wouldn’t be averse to changing the genders as well. Whatever works with your group of actors.

Warnings:

There is a body on stage which they think is dead.