Review: ‘Murder for Two’ gets good and silly in Walnut Creek

“Murder for Two” is many things at once.

Center Repertory Company’s season opener at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts is a farcical murder mystery in which only two people play many roles — or rather one actor plays the detective while the other one plays everybody else. It’s also a musical, with music by Joe Kinosian and lyrics by Kellen Blair and a book by both, and both performers switch off on the piano or sometimes play it together.

It’s a classic drawing room mystery setup. There’s a shot in the dark with a whole lot of suspects in the room and a couple of policemen conveniently nearby, and one of the cops hopes to make detective by solving the murder before the real police detective arrives.

Eric Van Tielen is placidly pleasant as Officer Marcus Moscowicz,

a protocol-obsessed small-town cop haunted by a troubled past. Eric Shorey is terrifically animated and versatile as everybody else the colorful array of suspects, including the dead man’s conspicuously unmournful widow craving the spotlight, a seductive femme fatale prima ballerina, a squabbling older couple, a weirdly clingy psychiatrist with boundary issues, an overenthusiastic college student who wants to help solve the case and a few boisterous members of a boys’ choir.

The other policeman, who’s explicitly not Marcus’ partner because he has commitment issues, is played by no one at all, just providing an invisible sounding board for characters to soliloquize to so that we can hear what they’re thinking.

There are no costume changes aside from an occasional hat or pair of glasses. Both gents are simply costumed by Tracy Dorman in nice suits, with Shorey in a flashier vest and bowtie befitting the eccentricity and poshness of his various characters.

There’s a fun running gag about the crowd of people gathered in the room that Marcus hasn’t noticed, because of course they’re all played by one person. From time to time Marcus approaches Shorey thinking he’s talking to one person only to have him leap into life as somebody else altogether.

The dead man is a famous novelist whose books all have amusingly straightforward, on-the-nose titles, and everyone has possible reasons for resenting the way he mined their secrets for material.

The fact that the whole endeavor is a play is never far from the surface. Bill Clarke’s eye-catching set evokes an abandoned theater, with a loose-hanging red curtain and a whole lot of switches. The mansion set

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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