Comedy is difficult – both to perform and to recommend. What may prompt uproarious laughter from one audience member may leave another stone-faced.
So even though I barely cracked a smile during the entirety of “Murder for Two,” playing at Bristol Riverside Theatre through Oct. 10, I would hate to dissuade any silliness-loving theater-goer from taking a chance on this murder-mystery musical comedy – the theater’s first live production since the shutdown in March 2020.
Some might be amused by its script, or find its upbeat songs clever in their spoofing of Broadway and vaudeville traditions. Yet the wacky show, written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, is not for those who really love musicals, as its parodies are more derisive than affectionate.
The musical two-hander concerns the murder of a celebrated American novelist, and the efforts of a detective-wannabe police officer to solve the crime by interviewing an array of suspects, including the novelist’s wife, a psychiatrist, a prima ballerina, a bickering old couple, an Irish firefighter, a flirtatious graduate student, and tough members of a street-smart boys choir.
But none of that matters much, as the production is mainly a showpiece for the antics of the one performer, Kinosian, who portrays all of the different suspects.
Martin Landry provides deft support in the role of the detective, and the two actors partner exquisitely. They expend heaps of energy in well-timed physical bits and brisk dialogue, and take turns accompanying one another’s singing, or sharing in four-handed arrangements, on the grand piano center-stage.