This production is an eclectic blend of Philip Marlowe and Foucault, an interesting mix of crime-drama infused with theoretical diatribes that make for quick laughs and deep thought. Who would have thought that a simple murder mystery could be so complex with philosophical interludes? Could it be so entertaining and yet leave one searching within, as it poses questions that resonate deep in the core of one’s one search for validity? This it does — quite successfully.
The plot is easy enough to follow – a rash of murders affecting a metropolis and it is up to Detective (Anthony Backman) to catch the murderer. Accompanied by Partner (Bob Rusch) who also serves the voice of logic, they await the call from the Fantastic Phenomenon/Hero (Paul A. Hicks) a masked man who follows his conscience more than most avengers of justice. The foil of course, is Villain (Jeff Alan-Lee) who gleefully murders as a way of bragging rights to his own identity. Of which he labels himself Supernova.
The name game is part of the show’s charm. Characters explore back-stories of previous heroes, which is a great bridge between recollections of their past and present. Lively pacing by director Jonathan Price gives Brett Neveu’s script an extra punch. The acting accentuates the pearls of wisdom hidden within the dialogue. What could be an ordinary crime story becomes an exploration of existentialism. Of course, the devil gets all the good lines and Jeff Alan-Lee is outstanding as a snarky yet sympathetic murderer.
Detective Partner Hero Villain resonates. There is laughter and gasps, but the words and thoughts stay with you, like a cool breeze on a summer day. Recommended.
Detective Partner Hero Villain runs through May 24 at NoHo Actors Studio located at 5215 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit ATheatreConnection.com.