April 22, 2015

The actors weren’t even onstage yet when a man behind me tried to guess the culprit in Agatha Christie’s “The Unexpected Guest.” Clues were scarce, but he deduced what he could from the set: a wainscoted room with French windows, a cane-back wheelchair parked in front of them. The killer, he declared, would be the person in the wheelchair — unless the person in the wheelchair was the one who turned up dead. Bingo on that second prediction, but please don’t bother pitying the victim. When Richard Warwick is discovered late one night, shot through the head at his home on the Welsh coast, even his elderly mother isn’t terribly torn up about it. The not-so-dearly departed was a sadistic bully. Loads of people had reasons to want him gone. Theater Breaking Through Barriers employs artists with and without disabilities, and fighting stereotypes is central to its mission. “The Unexpected Guest” (1958) includes one character described by the woman of the house as deaf, and another — Richard’s teenage half brother, Jan (Christopher Imbrosciano) — as “what they call retarded.” Ike Schambelan, the troupe’s founding artistic director, who died of cancer in February, had staged the play before and was set to direct this production.