POSSIBLE PLANTICIDE: Hawkins play teaches lesson in the case of the dead Ficus

Published 4:00 am Sunday, February 5, 2023

Call it a potential case of “planticide.”

The Ficus tree in Larry and Louise’s living room is dead, their guests gathered for an evening social event want to know what happened to it, and everyone’s a suspect.

That’s the synopsis of the play, “The Trouble with Larry,” a mystery/comedy by local playwright Richard Van Den Akker being presented Feb. 17, 18, 24 and 25 by the Hawkins United Methodist Church Mission Team at the church’s Abundant Life Center, 3736 Halls Ferry Road. Performances will be at 7 p.m. each day.

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Unlike the previous productions, which were performed in a dinner theater format, this year’s play will be a dessert theater with desserts and beverages served during intermission. There will also be a silent auction, featuring local artisans’ work, antiques and merchant donations.

Admission is $10 per person and includes dessert and beverages. Tickets can be purchased by calling the church at 601-636-2242 or at the door the night of the performance. A nursery for preschool children will be available for the Feb. 17 performance.

Van Den Akker said he wrote “The Trouble with Larry” in 2008.

“We did a performance of it at Hawkins and everybody liked it,” he said. “We’ve updated it, changed it a little bit.”

The play takes place in a living room where Louise and Larry are hosting a Bible study and dinner party, but Louise is out of town, stuck on a delayed flight. As the guests arrive, they notice there’s a dead Ficus tree in the living room and begin discussing what happened to the plant.

During their efforts to determine the reason for the tree’s demise, the guests learn that any one of them, through their own inadvertent actions over time, could be responsible for the tree’s death.

The play, Van Den Akker said, is loosely based on Alfred Hitchcock’s film, “The Trouble with Harry,” in which a group of individuals each believes they are responsible for a man’s death.

“We do this with a plant,” he said. “The greater story is about telling the truth and being honest with each other.”

With the exception of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the Hawkins theater programs have been an annual event since 2004; all but two of the plays were original comedies written by Van Den Akker.

Proceeds from the play will be given to Lifting Lives Family Shelter, Beautiful Deliverance and Warren County Children’s Shelter.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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