Monday, January 21, 2019

Review of "Murder for Two"

My favorite theater genres are:
1.    Musicals
2.    Comedies
3.    Murder Mysteries

Happily, all three are embodied in the very amusing, ingeniously written, and energetically performed two-person show, Murder for Two, playing at Playhouse on Park through February 3rd.

As with many whodunits the story begins in the drawing room of a large, hilltop mansion where the wife of Arthur Whitney, a well-known author, is throwing him a surprise birthday party.  Unfortunately for the book writer when he arrives inside the darkened structure a gun is fired, fatally killing him.  Who fired the fateful shot?  Each of the suspects, played with giddy aplomb by Trevor Dorner, has a solid motive.  Enter would-be detective Marcus Moscowicz, played with equal comic dexterity by John Grieco, who methodically, or maybe more accidentally, happens upon the multitude of clues and red herrings to eventually solve the case.

The two actors have a finely honed chemistry that translates into unbridled zaniness and semi-controlled madness.  Trevor Dorner sometimes seems possessed as he ricochets from one character to another making each one as believable as the next. They include a prima ballerina, the local psychologist, the cranky couple next door, and the wife of the murder victim.  For good measure, he also embodies the officer’s love interest and a boy’s choir of 12.  Well, actually, three (you’ll get the joke by attending a performance).  John Grieco has only one character to focus on but, nonetheless, needs all his comedic acting prowess to stay in sync with his off-center partner. 

The score, by Joe Kinosian, who also wrote the amusing and clever book of the show, and Kellen Blair, is quick-witted, inventive, and tuneful.  It would be interesting to hear fully orchestrated versions of each tune.  All the songs are performed by Grieco and Dorner, who also demonstrate their considerable musicianship by accompanying each other on the on-stage piano.

Scenic Designer David Lewis has stuffed the small Playhouse stage with all the accouterments of a gothic manor, giving the set a mysterious ambiance.

Director Kyle Metzger expertly guides the two thespians through the fast-paced production, coming up with enough shtick and sidesplitting shenanigans for two shows.

Murder for Two, imaginative, original, and diabolically funny, playing at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford through February 3rd.

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