Murder for Two
Book and music by Joe Kinosian, book and lyrics by Kellen Blair
New World Stages, New York
Murder for Two, which started life in Chicago, is less a musical play than a vehicle for a comic eccentric plus a straight man.
For the record, the plot is a twisted version of an Agatha Christie detective whodunit. The cop, Brett Ryback as Marcus, is actually more junior than that but has aspirations.
He comes on the scene with his unseen partner Lou just after a crime novelist has been shot through the head.
The suspects are collectively played by Jeff Blumenkrantz, who is technically perfect in a role originally created by co-writer Joe Kinosian for himself. Although some might find the actor’s style intensely irritating, at the same time others will indubitably be doubled up with laughter.
Mr B’s shtick is to swap between half a dozen wildly varying characters with great rapidity, never putting a foot wrong in an acting tour-de-force under the direction of Scott Schwartz.
The characters that he portrays through the 100 minutes duration include an ungrieving widow, a femme fatale, an old doctor and a trio of sickeningly precocious nine-year-olds. All of these are as dotty as each other, which doesn’t help those with an interest in the crime story and its resolution.
In addition to acting and singing plot- or character-driven songs, the pair on stage make good use of the house Steinway, both clearly accomplished pianists.
The style is over-the-top storytelling somewhat in the manner of The 39 Steps but taking things even less seriously so that the show becomes about the performers and performance rather than anything else.
As such, it will appeal to those multitudes that enjoy their entertainment light and are suckers for this kind of breathless goofing around.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher