Gail Fleming lands a part in a local play that any actress would kill for. But when the actor playing her love interest literally dies on stage, the police are convinced she's taken her role a little too far. Sharona and her mother urge Monk to step into the spotlight, and find the real killer before the curtain falls on Gail for good.
Sharona's sister, Gail, is starring in a play that has been picked up for an off-Broadway run in New York City. Monk and Sharona are in the audience. During a scene, Gail uses a fake knife to "stab" another actor, Hal Duncan. Duncan gasps and wheezes before falling to the floor - but then doesn't get up. Sensing something wrong, the director asks if there's a doctor in the audience. One rushes onstage and announces that Duncan is dead, stabbed in the chest. Gail is immediately arrested and charged with murder.
Under interrogation, Gail swears that she stabbed the actor with the fake knife, and couldn't have picked up the real one by mistake. Stottlemeyer and Disher said she had a motive: she and Duncan were seeing each other, before he broke it off.
As if things weren't stressful enough for Sharona, her mother arrives for a visit. Sharona tries to push aside her feelings to prepare her mother for the news of Gail's arrest. Before welcoming her in, Sharona also has to brace Monk with a few little white lies she might have told her mother - the biggest of which is that she's actually Monk's partner, not his assistant.
As expected, Mrs. Fleming is beside herself - her daughter is being accused of murder! She asks Monk and Sharona to help clear her daughter's name, and Monk reluctantly agrees to do "whatever it takes."
Monk and Sharona head back to the theater to investigate. While questioning everyone involved with the play, Monk begins to be suspicious of Jenna Ryan, Gail's understudy, who seems all too delighted to be stepping into Gail's shoes. Asking around the neighborhood, he finds that Jenna made a hair and nail appointment at an exclusive salon for the night before the next performance - two weeks in advance.
During Gail's parole hearing, due to the Judge having to put up with Monk in a previous case, Gail is denied parole before Monk could even get the chance to state the details. Monk, Sharona, and Cheryl promise to do everything they can to clear Gail's name.
Monk and Sharona tail Jenna to a singles "speed dating" event, where Monk has no choice but to sign up in order to question her. The speed dates don't go very well for Monk. When he's at last paired up with Jenna, his inquisitiveness puts her on the defensive. Growing suspicious of Monk's questions, she refuses to talk about the stabbing.
When Monk and Sharona arrive back at the theater, they decide to "recreate" the fatal moment in the play. With his perfect memory, Monk gives a surprisingly close recreation of Duncan's lines and attitude. The director witnesses their display, and insists on casting Monk as the victim's temporary replacement. Despite his fears, Monk reluctantly agrees to do it in order to get closer to Jenna.
While questioning several of the staff at the theater during rehersals, Monk and Sharona discover something even more suspicious: Duncan suffered from a severe food allergy (he was allergic to nearly everything), and no one in the cast or crew could stand him - rumor has it, the only reason he was given the part is because Jenna seduced the play's producer and then blackmailed him into hiring Duncan.
Before the start of the play, Monk visits the prison that Gail is at. She asks how close Monk is to finding evidence to clear her name, as she's already made a few "friends" in Jail and doesn't wish to make any more "friends." Monk explains what he found out. Gail also recognizes Jenna and explains that she previously was suspected of causing the star actress to remove herself from the play due to an injury she sustained at an "accident" at a golf course, but she used an alibi: that she was partying at another house, the exact same alibi that she supplied to Monk at their speed date. Monk then notices that he's late, and thinks he'll do well since he did well at the rehearsals. Gail then reminds him that everyone does well at rehearsals, and that the actual showing is what truly determines their true acting ability, making Monk nervous.
Right before his theatrical debut, Monk starts replaying the events of the night of the murder. But as he's about to go on, he is suddenly stricken with stage fright! As Sharona begins checking his pulse, it hits him. Monk has solved the case.
He explains to Sharona that before the play, Jenna Ryan spiked the apple with something that he was allergic to. After Duncan bit into the spiked apple, his allergies activated as soon as Gail stabbed him. He then instructed Sharona to find anything in Jenna's dressing room that could be something Duncan was allergic to before being forced onto the play.
Monk is dragged out on stage. He's scared. He can barely get through his lines. Sharona manages to find Peanut Oil in her dressing room, and attempts to explain that she found it, but Monk wasn't able to notice. Unfortunately, Jenna noticed Sharona's attempt at communicating to Monk. Then, as the infamous knife scene approaches, Jenna brandishes a real knife instead of the prop knife! Sharona rushes the stage and struggles to disarm Jenna, and Jenna gets knocked out during the struggle. A man in the audience calls out for a doctor. Monk recognizes him from the previous performance - he was the "doctor" who pronounced Hal Duncan dead.
Here's What HappenedEdit
The man from the audience is actually Jenna's father! Together, they concocted a plan to frame Gail for murder so Jenna could take over the lead role. Knowing about Duncan's severe allergies, Jenna spiked the apple Duncan eats in their scene with peanut oil. When Hal collapsed, Jenna's father raced to the stage, posing as a doctor. During all the commotion, he removed the retractable prop knife attached to Hal's shirt and administered the fatal stabbing without being noticed.
The motive? A father's blind love for his daughter - and a daughter's over-ambitious drive for success at any cost. Also, they couldn't risk harming Gail directly because Jenna was already suspected of causing harm via an official "accident" to another star actress before.
Monk reveals that he knows Jenna's father is not a "doctor" since he took Duncan's pulse by placing his thumb to Duncan's wrist, something no real doctor would have done. And during the summation, Sharona has searched Jenna's dressing room, finding a bottle of peanut oil among her things, and saying it is a safe bet the coroner will find traces of it in Duncan's body.
Cheryl, in the audience, demands a round of applause for her daughter, the great detective, and together, Monk and Sharona take a bow.
Gail is exonerated, and prepares to leave for New York with the rest of the cast. Despite the rave reviews for his performance, Monk declares that his acting career is at an end.
Background Information and NotesEdit
- On the Monk Cast Favorites Marathon, this episode was listed as one of Ted Levine's favorites.
- Gail makes reference to her flirtation with Disher in "Mr. Monk and the Earthquake."
- Sebastian, the director, is played by actor Simon Templeton, who is the real-life husband of Rosalind Chao, who played Arleen Cassidy in the earlier episode "Mr. Monk Goes Back to School."