Author : Amnon Kabatchnik
Publisher:  Scarecrow Press
ISBN: 978-0-8108-8354-3 

A good mystery is a thing of joy for me and especially joyful is the experience of being part of an audience when a tale of mayhem and not a little murder takes centre stage – sitting in the stalls watching actors unravel an intriguing who-dun-it is an adrenalin racing, spine tingling experience.

Amnon Kabatchnik, author of  Blood On The Stage 1975 – 2000 has compiled a list of these heart hammerers and a marvellous list it is; each play selected (there are over 80) has a detailed plot synopsis, info on the productions and staging of the work, bio sketches of the playwright, director, actors, and reviews by major critics. 

Don’t want to rave but am going to; so lovely to read about forgotten faves and relive the performance: Patricia Highsmith’s ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’; a wonderful book, play and film (if there’s a t-shirt, I need to know). Ripley’s charm, impeccable good manners coupled with his chillingly creepy, dark-side were faithfully reproduced in Phyllis Nagy’s stage adaptation. I’d forgotten how wonderful the sets were, some of the action takes place at sea – easy to depict if it’s a movie but stage set design needs expertise to get an ocean liner mood right. The critics must have agreed with me because the reviews were unanimous; Phyllis Nagy and all concerned with the international productions were awarded top marks.

What is particularly engaging about Blood On The Stage is I’ve discovered books that were translated to the stage that I didn’t know about.  ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is on my top ten booklist - I’ve seen the film and now I know there’s a play, I’ll be watching out for a production. 

Amnon Kabatchnik’s entertaining research and reporting style makes for a really interesting read. He has included reports on all mystery theatre genres staged between 1975 - 2000:  psychological dramas, who-dun-its, classical detectives, comic mysteries and let’s not forget: musicals which have a corpse in the cast list.

Some of the well-known playwrights included are: Anthony Shaffer, Jeffrey Archer, Terence Rattigan, David Mamet, Tom Stoppard, Ira Levin, Simon Brett, Stephen Sondheim, Lesley Bricusse and lots more. What is especially interesting is reading about some of their lesser known works – Lesley Bricusse gained an international reputation with his musical ‘Stop The World, I Want To Get Off’ but did you know in 1988 his play ‘Sherlock Holmes – The Musical’ was produced in Exeter, England?

He wrote the book, lyrics and score… serious fun, love to see it. Similarly there are other plays written by playwrights unknown to me that have whetted my appetite – currently googling for more info on possible future productions.

Blood on the Stage 1975 – 2000 is a keeper. Doesn’t matter whether you are a student or fan of mystery theatre, if you enjoy exciting puzzling stories (each play’s synopsis is a descriptive short story without dialogue) then at 603 pages, Amnon Kabatchnik’s scholarly recording of milestone plays is a book that is easy to dip into and return to, both for reference and pleasure. If you can’t get it for yourself, lobby your local library or college and share the enjoyment.

Follow Here To Purchase Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detection

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