Murderer! A powerful word loaded with so much meaning that delivers much, much more in Anthony Shaffer's deliciously dark and humourous killer-comedy that is now on at the Intimate Theatre in Cape Town.
One of the most delightful aspects of this magnificently polished production is how director Christopher Weare and his team have turned this intimate venue into a board game, reminiscent of Cluedo; the theatre space is imaginatively transformed into the setting of the play, the house of an eccentric and obsessive artist, where the gruesome act of murder is contemplated and turned into an art form.
Like Von Trier's film Dogville, each space of the house is clearly demarcated by white lines that indicate the walls; chalked drawings reveal objects, windows and ornaments, printed words on the floor and signs indicate the bedroom, basement and lounge; all of this culminates in a playful mind game. An unexpected climax
The audience becomes invisible visitors who voyeuristically observe Shaffer's ingenious plot unravel and lead to an unexpected climax.
It's an amusing exploration of words, action and characters - of what it takes to commit oneself to the act of murder and how its outcome delivers an ironic twist that unmasks its clever and insightful plotting.
Shaffer, who created the brilliant Sleuth, once again turns his passion for the murder-mystery genre and game playing inside out with Murderer; each thought and every moment is a deceptive piece of a puzzle that sets the mind spinning and at times leaves one clueless.
It's one of those plays in which the playwright leads you up the garden path, and back again, and just as you feel confident and sorted, twists logic into insanity; it's a mischievous mind game that offers first-rate entertainment. A master of his craft
As director and conceptual designer, Weare truly proves that he is a master of his craft, a murderer in his own way, killing worn-out conventions and presenting a staging that is imaginative, bold and shows why live theatre will never die. His superb cast splendidly brings Shaffer's vibrant characters flawlessly to life with skill and finesse.
Carel Nel is perfectly cast as Norman Bartholomew, a twisted husband whose obsession with the art of murder becomes an explosive act that implodes; Emily Child is a revelation as Norman's wife, delivering a striking performance as a woman whose cunning nature is a force to be reckoned with; Nandi Horak is equally brilliant as the devious mistress whose scheming mind outshines her brilliant motives; and Dorian Burstein is fantastic as the detective whose catalytic invasion causes mayhem.
What's really great about Murderer, and makes it such an entertaining and not-to-be-missed experience, is that action and character ultimately reveal the best and worst of what we can possibly imagine; and how the obvious becomes a mystery.Piecing the clues together
The audience plays detective in piecing the clues together, carefully scrutinising the crime scene and gathering evidence to profile the killers and victims. What we discover is that there is indeed a murderer in every thought and action, unrelenting and impossible to identify; and that we have fallen victim to a crafty and brainy plot that cuts deep.
Funny, intelligent and provocatively challenging, Murderer is killer entertainment at its best. It's another feather in the cap for The Mechanicals and a reason to experience live theatre.
Don't miss it. Murderer plays at the Intimate Theatre until 8 September. Read more about Murderer at www.writingstudio.co.za/page1746.html