A successful screenwriter/ playwright follows the mantra, “write what you know,” for a winning story. Brett Neveu’s play 4 Murders is the epitome of this philosophy, based on true life events in 2003, when a dear friend of his was senselessly murdered in Chicago, the killer never yet found. The series of vignettes was not originally intended to be produced or shown, but rather as a cathartic expression of Neveu’s grief and mourning. Each playlet features a cool, collected “wholesome as apple pie” looking serial killer named “Joel” (Eric Curtis Johnson), who befriends and converses with each innocent, unsuspecting victim he preys upon. Brett Neveu, when re-watching the show, even 7 1/2 years later, states, “I still hear little clues and listen to an echo still haunting me to this day.”
With shades of Jack the Ripper and Dexter, this play draws our prurient interests and morbid curiosity of a serial killer’s psyche. Art certainly imitates life, where disturbing situations mirror the precarious times we live in. We’ve seen too many tragic catastrophes, from schoolyards to salons…. In 4 Murders, each theme and setting/venue (apartment; motel; office; bus stop) is so suspenseful and artistically presented, creating a most compelling story. A seemingly normal, nondescript man walks into the town, mysteriously disrupting the lives of innocents, reminiscent of Mark Twain’s novella, The Man who Corrupted Hadleyburg. A dark stranger enters the small town and decides to take revenge without any meaning to his madness.
People are unpredictable, and at dire times, even more so. With the Halloween season upon us, and less daylight, themes of the macabre are floating everywhere. A story of murder and mayhem, based on a true event, is even more haunting than ever.
4 Murders runs through Nov. 20 on Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. at T.U. Studios located at 10943 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. For reservations, call (800) 838-3006 or www.skypilottheatre.com.