I must admit, I do love a good “whodunnit”, so was excited to see Murder for Two at The Other Palace – even more so when I realised it was also a musical, to be performed by just two actors.
Before the show starts, it’s obvious from the set design (Gabriella Slade) that we are about to be treated to a murder mystery, with overflowing filing cabinets and photos of the suspects on the wall. A fog-like effect and dark colour scheme makes the set all the more atmospheric.
When famous novelist, Arthur Whitney, is murdered by a bullet to the head at his own birthday party, it falls to Officer Marcus (Ed MacArthur) to solve the crime. Now, here’s the interesting twist – the only other performer on stage (Jeremy Legat) plays all the suspects. The skill he brings to this is nothing short of excellent. He switches seamlessly from character to character, including the victim’s wife and niece, a doctor, and three young choir boys, to name a few. It’s honestly a joy to watch Legat’s skilled performances of the various suspects, which make for some hilarious, laugh out loud moments.
As if the acting abilities of the two performers weren’t enough, they also prove themselves to be talented pianists and singers. The pair take turns to accompany each other on an upright piano as they sing, sometimes singing and playing as a duo. The songs are largely entertaining and well-written and encapsulate the light-hearted nature of the show well.
Best described as a parody of both the Murder Mystery and Musical Theatre genres, Murder for Two is hilarious and fun. Directed by Luke Sheppard, the two performers are engaging and likeable from the outset and bring with them an abundance of talent. This festive season, why not treat yourself to a quirky show and perfect escapism from everyday life.
“brims with intelligent, self aware, sharply crafted stagery”
Of all the British theatre traditions, the Christmas Pantomime is the one that survives most intact into the digital age. Companies as diverse as Stratford East, Theatre 503, and of course Hackney Empire produce amazing work keeping the institution alive. For other audiences, a tasteful interpretation of Ebenezer Scrooge’s misfortunes or an elegant, orchestral candlelit carol service might mark the holiday season.
With Lesley Garrett’s ethereal voice and John Marquez and Hugh Dennis’ brilliant comic timing, The Messiah is the best of both of these worlds. It’ll hold up well in front of a family audience, with plenty of innocent, wholesome wordplay alongside bawdier jokes, old-fashioned physical slapstick, and audience participation sequences that will have grown adults clutching each other with sheer glee. But there are also treasures to uncover for those who come looking for theatre to sink their teeth into.
The set design is so beautiful it manages to make me nostalgic for a period I wasn’t around to see. So many details in the choreography and lighting are lovingly put together to enhance the mood and even the intermission music recalls a golden age of epic biblical films.
With the cast, it’s impossible to really dislike Hugh Dennis’ Maurice. The actor is just too endearing, so his character isn’t pompous or nasty enough to need taking down a peg or two. John Marquez’s lovely Ronald spins right through from bumbling crotch gags to very spare, excruciating glimpses into his lonely life.
Patrick Barlow’s anarchic, sincere production has a certain homemade charm but brims with intelligent, self aware, sharply crafted stagery. It’s not difficult to see why his beloved 39 Steps ran for nine years on the West End.
I left The Other Palace thinking that the scope of someone’s theatrical ambition is achieved heart-first. Their spiritual awakening is a personal responsibility. And you know what? Sometimes a big Pinocchio nose is just very, very funny.