Murder, Anyone? @ Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks playing through June 7
This is a play about writers. In a city where you can’t throw a pistachio shell without hitting someone beavering away on their screenplay. “Murder, Anyone?” is a play about the struggles of a writing team as they bang away on a laptop creating, destroying and recreating what they hope will be a classic noir murder mystery…taking them from obscurity to fame and glory, is a no brainier.
Gordon Bressack has created an ode to writers everywhere and writers in this town in particular.
Devin Caldarone, Jack Zullo (seated). Photo James Sprague
Here, in the land of movies, the temptation to write based on what broke the latest box office records, even if you are supposed to be writing a play, is clearly unavoidable for most.
George and Charlie are two writers teaming up specifically to write a murder mystery noir style play for a small black box theatre. At least that is what Charlie imagines they are doing. George, on the other hand, seems determined to turn the play into a movie script full of the most cliche plot twists in the book.
As the two writers grapple with the storyline, the characters and each other, we see the action they write unfold in front of our very eyes on the other half of the stage…very clever.
The action is further enhanced by a projected backdrop of the play’s setting, a country house’s living room, complete with flickering fireplace, adding a great cartoonish quality to the play. Since the actual writer, Mr Bressack, wrote for “Scooby-Doo,” “Animaniacs” and, my absolute favorite, “Pinky and The Brain,” this is a really lovely touch I think.
Abraham Smith, Liesl Jackson (seated). Photo James Sprague
It’s a very interesting concept overall, the writers write, the actors act, and each time a change is made, whether an accent or a character’s personality is flipped, instantaneously we see it played out on stage. It’s quite hilarious…
Everyone is brilliant of course, they really have to be. The action is delightfully twisted and the actors become puppets to the writer’s whims. But they somehow really do inhabit every line, which is tough to do when your purpose is to fulfill the other half of the play’s fantasy. The only way a play like this could work as well is if the actors take everything totally seriously without playing to the crowd or hamming it up, and this group of highly experienced and excellent actors are perfectly in control of every scene. Just wonderful!
Oh, and there is also a man in a large yellow chicken costume…which always works somehow.
As the power struggle between the two writers plays out the effect on the actors becomes more and more ridiculous and funny and we are never quite sure what will happen next. There is a brilliant twist to the end, which I shall absolutely not tell you…but what I can tell you is that I loved this play!
Jack Zullo, Devin Caldarone (seated). Photo James Sprague
The Whitefire has some bloody fantastic plays this season. I have enjoyed everything I have seen so far, but “Murder, Anyone?” is a particular highlight for me. I really, really recommend it!
Don’t dawdle, the show is only playing on Wednesdays until June 7th, so get your tickets and go and support live theatre for heaven’s sake!!!
Written and Directed by Gordon Bressack
13500 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, 91423
April 5 – June 7
Wednesdays at 8 pm
Carla Collins – Marie Clements
Devin Caldarone – Charlie
Bruce Clifford – Blaine
Liesl Jackson – Bridgette
Abraham Smith – Cooper
Jack Zullo – George
Playwright & Director – Gordon Bressack
Co-Producer – Venus Banuelos
Technical Director & Graphic Designer – David Svengalis
Lighting Director – Derrick McDaniel
Fight Choreographer – Mike Mahaffey
Props & Costumes – Venus Banuelos & Nancy Santiago
Stage Manager – Nancy Santiago
Publicity – Nora Feldman