TNT’s ‘Little Murder’ provides evening loaded with mayhem
By Lorraine Wardle
Last year, the Trumbull New Theatre promised a season full of “murder, music and mayhem” and they have not disappointed. TNT’s latest production, “A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody,” is a sort of murder-lite loaded with mayhem.
In contrast with TNT’s season opener, “Dial M for Murder,” “A Little Murder” is an interesting twist on the typical murder-mystery plot. In reality, it’s more of a comedy about avoiding murder than it is a murder-mystery.
The play begins on New Year’s Eve, in the study of Matthew Perry, a wealthy businessman, and his wife, Julia. The couple has stepped away from their annual New Year’s party to make their resolutions. Matthew’s resolution is surprising, to say the least. He has decided to kill his wife so he can be free to retire and travel the world. Julia is understandably opposed to this idea and resolves to stay alive for the next year.
The next few scenes occur in June and October of that year, in which we learn that Matthew’s attempts at murder have had unfortunate results: Many of his staff, friends and family have died under suspicious circumstances. Also in the mix are daughter, Bunny, her fianc , Donald, and butler, Buttram, along with a bumbling detective who tries to makes sense of the mysterious deaths.
After a series of humorous antics and witty dialogue, the play reaches an ending full of twists and resolutions and a message of commitment and fidelity, oddly enough. The script often was ridiculous, but the cast pulled it off with ease. Their quick pacing and great delivery made the show fun and entertaining.
Perennial director Terri Gilbert has assembled an excellent cast for this latest production. As Matthew Perry, local theater veteran Wayne Morlock was natural and genuine — not the typical attributes of a would-be murderer. Emily Love as Julia was light-hearted and glib, even in the face of her imminent death. Megan Browning as Bunny was appropriately ditsy without being annoying, and Zack Gilanyi played Donald with sincerity.
Jerry Kruse’s Buttram was a humorous version of the iconic butler role. Rob Morris played Det. Plotnink, the most absurd character in the play, with ease and proved to be an excellent comedian with entertaining and crowd-pleasing slapstick and physical humor.
As always, the set was spectacular. Director Gilbert and crew have created a gorgeous interior set, complete with wood- paneled walls, built-in bookshelves and lots of luxurious details. To change scenes, a “staff” of maids and butlers changed the d cor of the room. The Halloween d cor was especially impressive.
As promised, Gilbert and cast have delivered a play with murder and mayhem, proving, as Julia claims, “a little murder never hurt anybody.”
“A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody” continues at the Trumbull New Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and March 18 and 19 and at 3 p.m. March 20. For reservations, call 330-652-1103.