Shots are fired at a birthday celebration. Arthur Whitney, the Great American Novelist, is dead. The nearest detective is nowhere in the vicinity, but Officer Marcus Moscowicz, a local policeman with big dreams, is ready to leap into action.

Murder for Two, ‘a musical comedy to die for’, is the creation of Kellen Blair (book and lyrics) and Joe Kinosian (book and music).

It’s been performed in sell-out seasons across the globe and comes to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival after equally successful runs in Sydney. Over 90 frenetic minutes, two performers juggle 13 roles while sharing a single piano as they tell the tale of a surprise party gone very wrong.

Director Richard Carroll, co-artistic director of Sydney’s Hayes Theatre Co, is a musical theatre specialist, including overseeing two productions of this show. Performers Matthew Predny and Gabbi Bolt both hold diverse performance credits. Comedian Bolt made her name on social media and comedy stages before making her professional theatre debut in this show in Sydney last year. Predny has appeared onstage in the lead for Avenue Q and in productions including Jekyll & Hyde, Fiddler on the Roof, Kinky Boots, and Into the Woods.

In this production, some shelves, a small desk, and a chaise longue serve as focal points for action that zips around the space at an increasingly frantic pace. At centre stage sits a grand piano – the base to which the performers return repeatedly.

Marcus (Bolt playing straight man) is a stickler for protocol and at first commits to solving the crime alone (silent offsider Lou is no help.) Once Marcus realises he’s dealing with a houseful of suspects, he reluctantly allows assistance from the victim’s niece, Steph, a criminology student.

Matthew Predny’s deft depiction of the houseful of remaining characters ensures we always know who’s ‘on’, even as the silliness ramps up. Dirty little secrets slip out, and it becomes obvious that unmasking the culprit won’t be easy. Aside from a tiny bit of gentle audience participation, it’s just Predny and Bolt superbly propelling the narrative through more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie boxed set. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues.

Anyone could have held the gun. Is it Arthur’s attention-seeking wife, Dahlia, whose yearning for the spotlight eclipses her feelings for her dead husband? Barrette Lewis, the lithely prancing prima ballerina, catches Marcus’s eye in more ways than one. Dr Griff, the lonely psychiatrist with a thriving practice, has the gossip on everyone in the room and might have a motive, too. Throw in a boys’ choir, a bickering couple, and a random firefighter and take your pick.

So many tropes, so little time! Knitting together inspiration from classic musicals to noir crime thrillers, Murder for Two manages to steer just clear of absolute mayhem by balancing expert characterisation with fabulous physical performance, original songs, dance, and the clever use of sound effects and props.

If you’re a murder mystery devotee with a taste for slapstick, the convoluted hijinks of Murder for Two will satisfy your lust for both a proper whodunit and a jolly good laugh.

Murder for Two is being performed at the Space Theatre until June 21 as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Make a comment View comment guidelines

Support local arts journalism

Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.

Donate Here

. You are free to republish the text and graphics contained in this article online and in print, on the condition that you follow our republishing guidelines.

You must attribute the author and note prominently that the article was originally published by InReview.  You must also inlude a link to InReview. Please note that images are not generally included in this creative commons licence as in most cases we are not the copyright owner. However, if the image has an InReview photographer credit or is marked as “supplied”, you are free to republish it with the appropriate credits.

We recommend you set the canonical link of this content to to insure that your SEO is not penalised.

Copied to Clipboard