October 2015 marked Pegasus Theatre’s 30th anniversary, and April 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the “birth” of Harry Hunsacker and the Living Black and White™ shows! For this reason, we’ve selected that first LBW show, A Trifle Dead!, as the next one in our countdown of favorite shows.
A Trifle Dead! is different in several ways from the other LBW shows. For example, A Trifle Dead! has the fewest characters of any Living Black & White™ show; just eight (most LBW shows have 11). A cast of eight is not many when you consider the fact that you have three people trying to solve the murder and at least one character has to die!
Another difference about A Trifle Dead! is that it was written in 1979, nearly seven years before it was produced by Pegasus Theatre in April 1986. For those who don’t know the back story: Kurt was attending the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts in New York and had fallen very ill. To pass the time while he recuperated, he watched movies on TV. As luck would have it, one day there was a Sherlock Holmes marathon (of the Basil Rathbone era).
It annoyed Kurt that, in the Basil Rathbone series, the most brilliant man in the world (Sherlock Holmes) has the biggest idiot (Dr. Watson) for an assistant. So he decided to turn the tables. In his script, he made the detective (Harry) the dim-witted one and the assistant (Nigel) the genius.
The black and white effect came later, when Kurt was getting ready to produce A Trifle Dead! for the first time. It occurred to Kurt that if he wanted to spoof movies of the 1930s and 1940s, he needed to make the plays LOOK like those old movies by using only colors in the gray scale. And thus a legend was born!