MURDER FOR TWO, a way over the top whodunit featuring an appealing straight man of sorts Brett Ryback as a cop (Marcus) investigating the murder of famous New England novelist Mr. Arthur Whitney and Jeff Blumenkrantz of mobile face and nimble limbs as all the endless eccentric suspects – male and female – young and old – prissy and gruff – including a twelve member boys’ choir has seemingly led a charmed life.
After a sold out run at Second Stage Theatre Uptown this past summer at the McGinn-Cazale Theatre where it garnered glowing reviews MURDER FOR TWO written by Joe Kinosian (Book & Music) and Kellen Blair (Book & Lyrics) has reopened at New World Stages 5 where both actors are first seen vying for dominance over who is going to play the grand piano center stage.
Your delight with the material will depend on your willingness to just go with the flow and not care if it doesn’t really make any sense at all and how much you will admire the virtuosic tickling of the ivories by both men.
Arthur Whitney has been murdered. Has he been shot? Or stabbed? Or poisoned? It’s a moot point as his unseen body is dead on the floor with his wife caring more about who stole the ice cream?
All of the suspects can be found in the various novels that Mr. Whitney has written. Also unseen strewn across the floor. The cop on the scene (Brett Ryback/Marcus) wants to solve the crime so that he can be promoted to Detective by “Chief” who checks in every so often on a cell phone (the cell phone ringing is a running gag that annoys Mr. Blumenkrantz to distraction and soon becomes dreary).
Marcus is also looking for a friend as his ex-partner and he had been mixing business with hanky-panky and she left leaving him forlorn. Enter the niece of Whitney, Steph, who wants to take her place. And help solve the mystery.
There is also a psychiatrist, a bickering old couple, a ballerina and three kids from the aforementioned choir. As good as Blumenkrantz is at changing his voice to accommodate these suspects it becomes difficult to follow with the result being that you don’t care who did it in this material that is spread wafer thin and directed at break neck speed by Scott Schwartz.
Props on the back wall that look like clues from the board game CLUE remain unused on the wall of the drab back stage set designed by Beowulf Boritt.
What I ultimately appreciated was the dedicated hard work of the actors and the skills displayed by their four hand finale – that appears to have been influenced? adapted? ripped off? from an old Victor Borge bit that still resonates.
Extended Through March 16th 2014 Photos: Joan Marcus
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