Murder for Two – A Killer Musical Comedy!

Murder for Two – A Killer Musical Comedy!

The Barn Theatre, Cirencester
4 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Yet again, another very enjoyable evening at the Barn Theatre Cirencester.

Last month they announced their 2022 Built by Barn Season of seven new productions and the first of the 2022 season has begun with a new revival production of Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian’s award-winning musical comedy Murder For Two ~ a hilarious high-energy madcap murder mystery musical whodunit with a twist… well, several twists!

Photo: Alex Tabrizi

A wonderful homage to the murder mystery genre and classical musical slapstick comedy, Murder For Two is a witty, often hilarious blend of music and mayhem.  When famous novelist Arthur Whitney is found dead at his birthday party, a detective is required to solve the crime but alas none are available.  Enter Neighbourhood Officer Marcus Moscowicz, played by Lee O’Reilly (who impressively makes his professional debut in this role having graduated in 2020 during the pandemic)who seizes his opportunity to prove his worth and solve the crime before the real detective arrives.  He takes the audience with him on his super sleuthing journey, seizing every object as a possible clue, his confidence dashed when it leads to a ‘dead end ‘. We the audience are drawn in and willing him to succeed before the ‘real’ detective arrives. The connection is real!

There are in fact 13 characters in the play and as this is a two-hander it is then up to Sam Denia to play all the suspects at the birthday party which he does with aplomb and a remarkable amount of energy, hilarity and an impressive range of voices and accents, male and female, young and old. That he manages this with no costumes changes apart from the odd hat, scarf or glasses is also impressive and the incredible pace of change between characters is truly awe-inspiring!

Somewhat in awe of both O’Reilly and Denia as they never leave the stage at all AND as well as acting and singing, they both play two pianos throughout, sometimes accompanying each other but often together sitting, standing, lying, and playing across & around each other and more! ALL the piano playing is live and extremely impressive!

Photo: Alex Tabrizi

These are two clearly exceptionally accomplished actor musicians in absolute command of a very wordy, face-paced script with impressive characterisations, detail, nuance, and boundless energy! Bravo!

Much credit must also go to Director Bryan Hodgson who previously directed the Barn Theatre’s 2019 Built by Barn production of The Importance of Being Earnest, which had successful runs at the Barn Theatre and London’s Turbine Theatre (which marked the Barn’s first London transfer).

In his Director’s notes Hodgson says Murder For Two incorporates three of his favourite things: murder, mysteries, musicals, and imaginative storytelling.  It is clear this production is a labour of love and care from performers and creatives together.  Hodgson has set the piece in a prop store of a film studio which “incorporates an energy of magical theatrical history, as well as an energy of ‘anything can happen’…” Hodgson’s superb direction certainly succeeds in carrying the audience along this madcap journey!

It is also clear that the whole creative team involved have invested as much care, detail, and love into creating this time capsule. The set, props, lighting and sound are all outstanding!

I absolutely loved Justin Williams evocative, intricate, fabulous set and wished I could have gone up on stage afterwards to have a real look at all the amazing detail!  Dusty prop rooms in old theatres are full of mystery and memories and it was delightful seeing how both actors used so much of the intricate set throughout ~ hidden props and messages kept us wondering what else there was to be uncovered!

Likewise Sam Rowcliffe-Turner used the set to full effect for some dramatic and also hilarious lighting effects and moments, along with Ben Thomas’ Sound Design which added to the atmosphere and detail.  A clearly harmonious creative team!

Photo: Alex Tabrizi

It’s always an immense pleasure to visit The Barn in Cirencester.  The quality of productions they have produced and collaborated on in the few years since they opened has been inspiring.

Iwan Lewis, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Barn Theatre, says of the 2022 season:

“In March 2020, our team at The Barn Theatre were preparing for our second birthday celebrations and had just opened our most ambitious season to date. It is difficult to now comprehend that it won’t be long before we will be planning to celebrate our fourth birthday and we will have spent half of the theatre’s existence in a pandemic.  Our 2022 season is a sign of the theatre’s ambitious, innovative, and resilient nature. It comprises of new work, family entertainment, musical theatre, and new productions of beloved work that we are thrilled to share with our audiences… remarkable theatre for our remarkable community”

Murder For Two is a wonderful Season opener and a perfect antidote to gloomy weather and sadly a still very stressful world.

The near full audience absolutely loved every minute ~ Highly Recommended!

MURDER FOR TWO is running until the 5th March 2022.           

Catherine Françoise
Mozart to Musicals

All Photos: Alex Tabrizi.

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