Murder Inn

Grace and Doris find a knife…
The guests settle in for a cozy visit at Murder Inn

“Jake, you listening to me?!”
Donald can sleep through anything…or can he?

“Doris, shut up!”

by Howard Voland and Keith McGregor

Murder Inn is set in New England, at the Barnsley Inn, a dilapidated eighteenth century inn, which is supposedly haunted by Marco, a knife-throwing poltergeist. A group of tourists, on a tour-Ghosts and Ghouls of New England-is forced, by a storm, to make an unscheduled stop at the Barnsley. What looks to be an unpleasant and uncomfortable detour soon turns into a night of mayhem and madness as knives begin to pop up…in the most unexpected places. As the storm builds and the body count rises, the survivors try to figure out who done it. And even more important-who’s likely to have it done to them next?

Cast in order of appearance:

Jake Talbot – (Mid to late 20’s) Son of the owner of the Barnsley Inn. A sturdy, no-nonsense young man who takes care of the place for his mother. In good physical shape.

Martha Talbot* – (In her 50’s) Owner of the Barnsley; cantankerous, short and plump with gray hair.

Agnes Tate* – “Middle Aged (40-50+)” Meddlesome, antagonistic, sarcastic, inconsiderate. Everyone’s murder victim of choice. Dressed expensively, but not in the best of taste.

Carolyn Pickett – (In her 20’s) Niece and traveling companion for Agnes; attractive, unassuming, and smartly dressed in slacks, blouse, and jacket.

Ellen Halsey – (Late 20’s to early 30’s) The tour guide, attractive and professional.

Muriel Lampmann* – “Middle Aged (40-50+)” Petite and…ethereal. A true believer in the occult. An airhead of sorts, but very sweet. Traveling alone.

Patricia Simpson*– “Middle Aged (40-50+)” Reserved, nervous, always tense. Traveling alone.

Todd Currier – (In his 20’s) Congenial, intelligent and well dressed in a casual way. He’s traveling with his father.

Lawrence Currier* – (Mid to late 50’s) A college professor on sabbatical, doing research for a book. Widowed in the last couple of years. Distinguished and intellectual.

Grace Sharp* – (60+) A retired school teacher; she’s petite and “fluffy,” and she looks helpless, which is by no means the case. Traveling with her longtime friend, Doris Brooks.

Doris Brooks* – (60+) Retired nurse practitioner. Matter of fact and sarcastic. Traveling with Grace.

Donald Schultz – (In his 40’s) The van driver. Physically either heavy or very thin. Morose.

*Note: All the characters with an asterisk — Martha, Agnes, Muriel, Patricia, Lawrence, Grace, and Doris — have a good bit of flexibility as to age, as long as they work as a group. Grace and Doris are older and wiser. Lawrence is distinguished…and he is of an age that Muriel, Patricia and Agnes would find attractive, especially since he is available. He also has to be old enough to be Todd’s father; and Martha has to be old enough to have a son Jake’s age — or if you want to take her older, she could be Jake’s grandmother with minimal script changes.

Set Description

Time: Contemporary; Early November.

Place: The play takes place in the sitting room of the Barnsley Inn, a dilapidated eighteenth century inn somewhere in New England. The furnishings are old, worn and stained. The plaster is cracked and has patches that are discolored and flaking.

In the center of the upstage wall a wide doorway opens to the main hall of the inn. The hallway is raised a couple of steps above the floor of the room-two steps go up to this doorway.

To stage right of this opening, along the back wall is a small bar, with a couple of stools. There is room behind the bar for someone to work. A “No-Smoking” sign hangs behind the bar. Stage left of the hall doors, against the back wall, is a roll-top desk and straight backed chair.

On the stage left wall of the room, there is a fireplace with a raised hearth-the hearth serves as a sitting spot on several occasions. There is a fire burning in the fireplace and a screen in front of the opening. On the room upstage end of the hearth there is a pile of firewood. A set of fireplace tools stands downstage of the opening. Upstage of the fireplace a swinging door goes off to the dining room.

A furniture grouping in front of the fireplace includes a sofa, a coffee table, and an armchair. The sofa faces front with the coffee table in front of it. The armchair is near centerstage and angled facing downstage left to make a grouping with the sofa.

Upstage in the stage right wall, a pair of French doors open onto the porch. Sheer curtains, hung on the doors themselves, screen the view outside. Drapes hang from either side of the opening. On this side of the stage there is a card table and four chairs.

At the beginning of the play the furniture is draped with old sheets-the room has been closed up for a number of weeks. There are cobwebs on the chandeliers, the paintings, in the corners, wherever they would be appropriate. A large carving knife has been stuck into the top log of the stack on the hearth.


For a complete reading copy, rights and royalty information, please contact Samuel French.

“The Murder Inn” photographs on the website are from the production by Off The Wall Theater in Monroe, Washington. Click the photo for a full-size version. The set for this production was designed by one of the playwrights.