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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Killer Performances in Murderers
at the Seattle Repertory Theatre

Murderers
Sarah Rudinoff
A trio of delicious, darkly comic performances, smooth direction by Steven Dietz, and a slight but savory trio of Jeffrey Hatcher one-acts, woven together into a morbidly madcap romp all combine to make Murderers into one of this years most unexpectedly enchanting entertainments. The Seattle Rep's pocket sized gem of a 2nd stage, The Leo K is the ideal venue for this show, set in and around the posh Riddle Key Retirement community in Florida. The production probably cost about 15% as much as some of the lavishly produced shows currently and recently gracing the main-stages of Seattle's major companies, but in many ways it offers greater delights.

The hilarity begins with the three stars, Mark Anders, Joan Porter Hollander and Sarah Rudinoff, entering, like a morose trio of "To Tell the Truth" panelists and announcing "I am a murderer." Anders' monologue is first, as his Gerald Halverson reveals how his twisted yet largely loving relationship with his girlfriend's wealthy Mother, leads to a marriage to Mama which is designed to leave both Gerald and girlfriend rolling in dough. Gerald does commit murder, but pays for his crime by being falsely tried and incarcerated for one which he didn't commit. The always engaging Anders makes an engaging semi-roue and laces his performance, in the best written of Hatcher's three interlocking tales, with wry humor and lighthearted irony, reminiscent of a vintage Alfred Hitchcock half hour show. Joan Porter Hollander as Lucy Stickler is engaging and rather cuddly, in a sort of Arsenic & Old Lace way as a woman who has a home-wrecker re-enter her life and uses her own faltering health and cunning mind to devise a rich revenge upon her husband and his paramour.

Hatcher's sketchiest monologue is fortuitously entrusted to one of Seattle's most dependable comic actresses, that deep voiced delight Sarah Rudinoff, who, as Minka Lupino, Riddle Key's engaging concierge, garners guffaw upon guffaw. Minka has far more victims to her credit than either Gerald or Lucy, knocking off those adult children, fair-weather friends and finally fellow Riddle Key employees who prey on or take advantage of her elderly tenants. There is a campily delicious element of the tale tying in with a Riddle Key mystery writer whose books are all Broadway and musical theatre related. Minka meets a happier end than her fellow murderers, and Rudinoff has us rooting for her from start to finish.

Carey Wong's scenic design is modest, amusing and accurate in its suggestion of a retirement community greeting area, and Rick Paulsen's lighting design is similarly low key. Susan E. Mickey's costumes are appropriately unostentatious. The production values are rightly modest, but this is not a show you should walk out humming the scenery from anyway. It's the actors that matter here and they are more than worth the price of admission.

Murderers runs through November 4, 2007 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St. in Seattle Center. For more information, visit the Rep on-line at www.seattlerep.org.


Photo: Chris Bennion



- David Edward Hughes



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