“Death by Design” delivers a teaspoon of comedy and murder


Written by Madison Knopik


“Death by Design:” a comedy with songs and murder opened Wednesday night in University of Nebraska at Omaha’s theatre.

Directed and written by freelance playwright, screenwriter and director, Rob Urbinati, and scored by Peter Mills, “Death by Design” represents a new type of play.

Urbinati got his inspiration for “Death by Design” when he discovered a used bookstore selling murder mysteries for 33 cents. He particularly took to writer Agatha Christie.  Nearby was a collection of paperbacks by playwright Noel Coward, a never before seen sight for Urbinati.

During his spare time, Urbinati read through the two writers’ books and noticed the similarities. This is how “Death by Design” was born.  He molded together the mysterious plot from a Christie murder novel with the refreshing wit of Coward.

UNO Theatre describes the play with: “Set during a weekend in an English country manor in 1932, ‘Death by Design’ is a delightful and mysterious ‘mash-up’ of two of the greatest English writers of all time. Edward Bennett, a playwright, and his wife Sorel Bennett, an actress, flee London and head to Cookham after a disastrous opening night. But various guests arrive unexpectedly – a conservative politician, a fiery socialist, a nearsighted ingénue, a zany modern dancer – each with a long-held secret. When one of the guests is murdered, it’s left to Bridgit, the feisty Irish maid with a macabre interest in homicide, to solve the crime. Death by Design is more than homage – it’s a new classic.”

The cast has really enjoyed working on this piece. Victoria Luther, who plays Sorel, and Faushia Weeden, who plays the maid, can be seen in their YouTube video describing their take on their characters and the play. Luther explains how each cast member has “picked out what their characters do and how they act.”  The entire cast has been working very hard. Weeden goes on to say how they have enjoyed working with Urbinati.

Costume designer, Sharon Sobel, has worked with Urbinati’s vision of the 1930’s British era. Sobel describes the costumes to have a frothy flow to them. She worked tremendously hard to get the costumes to resemble actual outfits of the British. From hunting jackets to “pillow” hats, a lot of research, time and effort went into the production.

The play is still running from March 5-8 at the UNO theatre in the Weber Fine Arts Building. UNO students get in free with their MavCards. To reserve tickets call the box office at 402-554-7529. For more information, contact Mallory Freilich or visit the UNO Theatre Facebook page.