MIDDLETOWN: THE PLAY’S THE ‘STING’

A Sting in the Tale

It’s been a “Season of Suspense” that mixed equal dollops of Murder Most Foul and Farce Most Frantic — and beginning this Saturday, the Monmouth Players close out their 2015-16 slate of shows in Middletown with a relatively little-known British import that boasts elements of each.

First staged in the 1980s — and co-written by Brian Clemens, creator of the swinging 60’s spy series The AvengersA Sting in the Tale is a slightly autobiographical comic caper, in which a pair of blocked writers (surely modeled after Clemens and his co-author, fellow Avengers scripter Dennis Spooner) find themselves in need of some renewed inspiration, even as they’re plagued by the unwelcome intrusions of a stereotypically shrewish spouse.

The solution to their woes lies in a project that the collaborators can really wrap their heads around — a real-life “perfect murder” scenario — although the aftermath takes some plot twists that the two veteran hacks fail to see coming.

The playwrights turn the conventions of the drawing-room mystery on its ear, with the really unwelcome appearance of a police inspector who happens to be a fervent fan of the genre — and whose familiarity with every hoary/ hokey device and trick in the playbook makes things exceedingly tight for our would-be master villains.

Paul and Lori Renick, executive producers and artistic stewards of the venerable Players (now in their 62nd season), team up to co-direct a cast featuring David Beil, Kevin Huelbig, Bill Lee, Nancy Viola and Kitti Mosolygo.

Performances (all hosted at the Navesink Arts Center, the reborn and rebranded former Navesink Library at Monmouth and Sears Avenues in Middletown) are served up with the Players’ famous spread of homemade desserts at 8:15 p.m. on April 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23, and at 2 p.m. on April 10, 17 and 24. Required reservations ($20; $17 for seniors and students; $10 for veterans) can be made here or by calling (732)291-2911.