12:33PM, Friday 02 November 2018
It's a surprise birthday party, the lights are out, the birthday boy enters but... bang! Instead of a lovely kind of shock there rings out a shot.
Great American novelist Arthur Whitney has been murdered by one of the guests at the party. Officer Marcus Moscowicz and his silent sidekick Lou are despatched to deal with it as the proper detective is an hour away.
When they gets there, Whitney's associates are all a bit dotty and all have a motive for killing him. Young Marcus dreams of promotion so this is his chance to prove himself in one hour.
As the title suggests, just two actors play all the characters – and the piano – in this pacey whodunit which pays homage to locked-room mysteries, the Marx Brothers and classic musicals with hilarious aplomb.
Jeremy Legat plays all the suspects using specs, hats, arm gestures and voice to differentiate. There's breathy ballerina Barette Lewis leaping into poses, needy psychiatrist Dr Griff asking for a friendship son, pert niece who Steph who says she stephinately didn't do it and Whitney's wife Dahlia with her tootsie-sweet voice and steely ambitions. And I'm not even going to try to list the members of the boys' choir. Legat is simply, or rather complicatedly, superb – a singing, playing, dancing ball of energy.
The role of the would-be detective is not quite such an acting decathlon but Ed MacArthur plays the part of Marcus with great charm and tickles the ivories with panache. We're all rooting for him to win the girl and make detective by the end. And I loved his bit of business with an umbrella and a hat being used to present warring couple Barb and Murray.
There are so many cultural references and funny asides in this glorious show, the Radley house inTo Kill A Mockingbird to the gold confetti in Britain's Got Talent to name but to. Director Luke Sheppard keeps on top of the rich material to keep this jam-packed show the right side of frenetic. You definitely get plenty of bang for your buck.
On the way out we bumped into Ronnie, aged almost 11, who said he's give the show 10 out 10. It is definitely be great fun for older children as well as grown-ups, though I've been reminded by my son that there are 'three swears'.
Like the characters, it's best not to count 'em.
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