The Other Palace, London – until 13 January 2019
Everyone loves a good murder mystery: The Mousetrap’s uninterrupted West End run and the constant stream of detective series and Agatha Christie screen adaptations attest to this. But with all this already available, how can you stand out from the crowd? Enter Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair with Murder For Two. Beginning life Off-Broadway in 2013, the show made its European première at the Watermill Theatre last year, and it has just begun a run in the studio space at The Other Palace where it will provide some alternative entertainment this festive season.
The concept is incredibly simple, though it makes things inherently difficult for the cast – two actors play out a musical murder mystery, providing their own piano accompaniment and bringing 13 characters to life throughout the course of the evening.
Officer Marcus Moscowicz dreams of the day he finally earns the detective badge he so desires, all the while trying to recover from the traumatic fallout from his last relationship. When he’s called out to the scene of novelist Arthur Whitney’s murder, and the designated detective is an hour away, he spots his opportunity to impress his superiors by bringing in the murderer himself. However, with suspects at every turn and a personal crisis rearing its ugly head again, will Moscowicz be able to beat the clock?
Murder For Two is a fast-paced whodunnit, full of hijinks, innovative piano duets and clever choreography. It perfectly blends the well-known tropes of detective fiction (such as misdirection, a peppy partner and a throng of suspects with strong motives) with classic features of musical theatre (think dance breaks and a showstopping number), all brought together with a dash of slapstick and goofy humour. The ridiculous nature of the show means that the actors can actually get away with the odd thing going wrong, as certain things could conceivably be part of the show – but even if it is a clear mistake, the show has a winning charm that keeps you laughing along with the cast.
Gabriella Slade has provided possibly the best set design that I’ve ever seen in the studio space at The Other Palace, evocative of the typical American detective agency offices you see on film and TV – including a brilliant suspects board on the right-hand side – but with a touch of the glamour of the stage thrown in for good measure. The space may be tight on that small stage, but that makes their ability to quickly move from place to place all the more impressive.
Ed MacArthur and Jeremy Legat reprise their roles as The Detective and The Suspects, respectively, making an exceptional double act. The naïvety and love for protocol shines through in MacArthur’s portrayal of Marcus Moscowicz, proving him to be a charming (if occasionally a little dim) character. Legat, meanwhile, has the responsibility of playing every single suspect; quite remarkably, with just the most subtle of changes, it’s always clear who he is at any given moment, and the fact that he manages to sing a duet with himself is very memorable indeed. The calibre of their performances elevates this fun show to an unmissable piece of comic theatre.
Murder For Two Photo credit: Scott Rylander
My verdict? An unmissable murder mystery musical, showcasing the perennial popularity of detective fiction alongside some brilliant piano duets – Ed MacArthur and Jeremy Legat are an exceptional double act.
Murder For Two runs at The Other Palace (studio) until 13 January 2019. Tickets are available online or from the box office.
Tags: Ed MacArthur, Gabriella Slade, Jeremy Legat, Joe Kinosian, Kellen Blair, London, Murder for Two, Off Broadway, Off West End, review, The Other Palace, theatre, Watermill TheatreCategories: all posts, review, theatre
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