Pros: The remarkable creativity demonstrated by the performers in pulling a murder mystery out of thin air.
Cons: Though both a funny and witty performance, I didn’t experience any laugh-out-loud moments.
A brutal murder is committed involving a frozen rapper, a urinal cake, and Steve Jobs. You’re intrigued, but you missed it? Too bad – the performance in the Phoenix Artist Club on Friday night was one of a kind, never to be seen again. The Murderettes are a group of improvisational comedy artists who state that they “murder people for your enjoyment. And ours.” Four performers get on an empty stage, ask the audience for time and place suggestions, and let their imagination run wild.
The results are at times witty and hilarious, as the four pull together a complex, if nonsensical story and a whole range of dodgy characters out of thin air. Rapper Ice Cube is found dead in a nightclub, his private parts frozen to a urinal and a massive apple lying next to his body. The clues lead a private detective and his assistant to a timid dentist who identifies the teeth marks in the apple as belonging to the rapper, and the show then takes a bizarre turn that takes us to a grave in which the fabled iPhone 8 lies. Ultimately, it is the phone’s voice system Siri who solves the mystery.
The talent and courage that is required to stand in the limelight with no script whatsoever and create a piece of theatre is admirable, and while I was not exactly spellbound during the performance, there was both coherence and comedy. How the actors came up with their ideas under the pressure of performing is beyond me. When Everything Theatre reviewed a performance by the group last year, the reviewer felt that the action had been a bit slow and drawn-out at times. This time, however, the balance between letting the scene develop and evolve, and springing in when it slowed or became too confused, was just right.
Thom Tween, a founding member of The Murderettes, was particularly good as the hopping detective (“hopping” was the verb ascribed to him by an audience member) who comes under suspicion of being involved in the rapper feud himself when he is suddenly unable to speak without rhyming. His jovial and silly performance could turn creepy and suspicious without warning, and he introduced many of the clever twists and turns during the hour-long performance.
One thing that the group could improve on is the comedy: while I found the performance fun and witty, it did lack some good laugh-out-loud moments. That said, the murder mystery performance was preceded by some “deathly improv games” during which the audience was invited on stage to play their part. This proved just how difficult improvisation is, and how impressive The Murderettes’ performance was. If you missed it, there are a few more murderous shows coming up in the lovely Phoenix Artists Club in November 2014.