Review: Shakespeare Festival’s ‘Murder for Two’ simply kills it

L-R: Paul Helm as Marcus Moscowicz and John Wascavage as The Suspects in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2016 production of "Murder for Two," date and location unspecified | Photo by Karl Hugh and courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival 2016, St. George News

OPINION — The Utah Shakespeare Festival is producing eight plays this season that involve nearly 75 performers, but it is doubtful one will find two harder working actors than Paul Helm and John Wascavage, who leave it all on the stage in the two-man production “Murder for Two.” In an unusual twist, one actor plays one part, and the other actor plays multiple roles.

Helm plays Marcus Moscowicz, an officer bucking for a promotion. Moscowicz and his “silent” (read: invisible) partner arrive at the home of novelist Arthur Whitney following the report of gunshots that have fatally wounded the novelist.

For his part, Wascavage portrays no less than 10 different characters – sometimes in rapid-fire succession – using a variety of props, nuanced body language and his acute vocal dexterity to transform himself into the various personalities, both male and female, young and old.

Not lost in the whodunit chicanery is a musical score that contains a bunch of fast-paced vaudevillian style songs. And did we mention the two actors are also gifted piano players who accompany each other during the musical numbers?

This 100-minute show builds to a frenzied pace, is not derailed by an intermission, and has just enough audience interaction to prevent it from getting stale. The brand new Anes Studio Theater, which seats about 200 patrons (for this production in “alley-style” seating on two sides), offers a perfectly intimate experience for a one-set show that relies plenty on the chemistry of the two actors.

Helm and Wascavage are fearless and fun with impeccable timing. And besides their talent, they seem to be having a ball, rarely stopping to catch a breath. Murder mysteries are making a comeback to the stage, and if “Murder for Two” is any indication, they won’t be dying any time soon.

• Event details and resources follow below •

The Beverley Sorenson Center for the Arts 2016 | Site map courtesy of The Beverley; St. George News | Click on image to enlarge
The Beverley Sorenson Center for the Arts 2016 | Site map courtesy of The Beverley; St. George News | Click on image to enlarge

Event details

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