Don’t know where JB is this week Fletcherfans, but wherever it is has something called an Applewood Playhouse where two of her friends Julian Lord and Maggie Tarrow are reuniting for a revival of the play that got them famous back in the day, Apparently what got them more famous were the hotel rooms they trashed when they fought it out. The Applewood Playhouse, it turns out, was the place where Jessica met a bloke named Frank Fletcher. Nawww.
JB catches up with Maggie in her dressing room, in that Maggie talks at her for a while, opens her makeup case and completely freaks out. (This tallies with my experience with actors).
She flounces out of the dressing room, yells at her former husband (twice former, I think), yells at her understudy and departs to yell at another actor, Larry Matthews, who was having a marvellous time making out with the stage manager Pru, whom Maggie accuses of being a bedspread. I’m not entirely sure what this means, but it sounds like a burn. Later, while Maggie and Larry are rehearsing Maggie loses her shit again, when a silhouette turns into a man. Not only a man, but a man who had previously been making snide remarks at Maggie and Julian’s press conference. Maggie’s understudy, Barbara Bennington, comes forward to announce that that’s no man
that’s a space station it’s her fiance from New York. Except as they leave the stage he thanks her and tells her to make sure Maggie never finds out who he really is.
While Maggie regroups, the actor playing the butler (who also happens to be the Chief of Police) comes on to ask what his motivation is in this scene. “You’re a butler, chief. Your motivation is to buttle.” Says the director.
Rehearsals continue, and then Maggie loses it again when a mysterious thing appears in the prop scrapbook she is reading, causing her to faint. They lay her down on the
casting couch in her dressing room and she informs Julian that “It was…HIM!”
I’m not gonna lie, I think she’s a zombie now.
While Maggie recovers back at the hotel Jess investigates the scrapbook, which has suddenly reappeared, but it’s completely empty. Later that night, Julian has an argument with producer Nicky Saperstein and show director Alexander Preston but Nicky is convinced: the show must go on, with Barbara Bennington in the lead role. Julian declares that Barbara can perform in the show if Nicky wishes…but not with Julian! *cue door slam* A short time later, JB comes across Barbara leaving Julian’s dressing room saying “Believe me, I support your decision 100%” Isn’t that nice?
JB tells Julian that she’s worried someone is trying to frighten Maggie. Julian tells her that her imagination had been running a little wild lately, but before he can explain Alexander turns up to defend the decision to go on with Barbara, saying that Maggie had bailed on a production before and he was damned if she was going to do that to him again. Julian agrees to go on that night on the condition that Maggie resume her role the following evening.
The curtain goes up and the first act goes off without a hitch. Unfortunately the second act is cancelled when Barbara Bennington drops dead. Seems like a legit excuse, really. Fortunately, the chief of police is already on hand. Unfortunately, he’s decided that he can only solve the case if he pretends to be Poirot.
Our Heroine’s reaction to this new development is measured and appropriate.
JB follows him into Barbara’s dressing room and finds him having a panic attack. He asks her how his performance went – he doesn’t think he can perform the role of investigating this case as himself, only as Monsieur Poirot.
In light of the Chief’s tenuous grip on reality JB agrees to help him, and suggests they take samples of all the liquids around to see which was poisoned. The next morning, Jess visits Maggie at the hotel to find her even more rattled. She’s convinced that someone is trying to kill her and doesn’t want to return to the theatre but Julian convinces her.
JB runs into Alexander at the theatre and asks him what he meant the previous night about Maggie having run out on him before. He tells her that during the first run of the play thirty years ago Maggie begged out of her contract “to do a movie” and disappeared for about a year. JB points out that Maggie didn’t make her first movie until much later, and Alexander tells her that it was just an excuse to get out of the play.
While Nicky the theatre owner revels in his new-found notoriety, the Chief informs JB and Alexander that cyanide in the decanter of wine on the stage “was responsible for the death of our luckless thespianette.” (Thespianette apparently has about twelve syllables). He decides that Julian is the guilty one, then changes his mind and decides Maggie is the guilty one, JB, showing infinite patience, tells him that
he’s an idiot the clue to solving the case has something to do with the scrapbook that caused Maggie’s fit the previous day. Apparently no one agrees with her as she is left to investigate the stage on her own, but is immediately distracted with memories of the first time she met Frank, all those years ago.
JB’s walk down memory lane is interrupted by Larry and Pru having a bit of a makeout. Honestly, kids these days *shakes fist*
That night, the show goes off without a hitch…until the end of the first act when Julian smells cyanide in the wine again and knocks the glass out of Maggie’s hand with an outlandish flourish. Pru brings the curtain down and the accusations start flying.
Down at the police station, JB gives the chief a lesson in how to find evidence.
Back at the theatre, JB asks Maggie to come clean about why she thinks someone is trying to kill her. Maggie shows her the note left in her makeup case that reads 30 YEARS CAN’T’ CHANGE WHAT YOU DID TO ME. Subtle. She refuses to give JB any more information. JB tries to get Julian to talk about the year Maggie disappeared, saying that nine months is close to a year. (Life Lesson #49)
“I’m sorry, but this is a scene in which I have no lines.” Says Julian, and walks off. For the record I will be stealing this line and using it to get out of conversations I don’t want to be a part of. Fair warning.
JB asks Alexander for Larry’s resume. to check his vital statistics but is interrupted by the Chief barreling with an arrest warrant. Apparently it’s clear that Alexander set the whole thing up to kill Maggie as revenge for walking out on the play thirty years ago. While JB explains to the Chief why the whole thing is preposterous Larry spots Barbara’s mysterious fake fiancée rifling through her dressing room and gives chase, bringing him down with an epic tackle.
The Chief decides to multi task and interrogate the man, Terry Holt, while dressing for the show. Terry admits to being an investigative reporter looking to do a story on Maggie and Julian. Barbara was an acquaintance looking to further her career by taking over for Maggie by freaking her out – notes in makeup cases, birth certificates in scrapbooks, that old chestnut. JB thinks that Maggie thought that Terry must have been her son, which is why she said “It was….HIM!” earlier on. She explains it all very clearly to the Chief, who promptly tries to arrest Terry for poisoning Barbara’s red wine in order to steal the birth certificate.
Terry tells them that Barbara couldn’t have been poisoned by red wine as she was allergic. This gives Jess an idea.
That night, the show finally goes ahead without any attempted murders. While the cast celebrates, the Chief decides to have one last stab at arresting someone, this time arresting Terry for being the long lost illegitimate son of Maggie and Julian. Also a murderer.
Of course, he’s completely wrong. Fortunately JB is there to set things right.
There you have it. It was all an attempt by Julian to be free of that role-grabbing little so-and-so Barbara. Actors, man. What are you going to do?