A Spontaneous Theatre production presented by the Citadel Theatre
The Citadel Theatre Club space,
April 4 to 29, 2018
Review by GRAHAM HICKS, HicksBiz.com
In a theatrical age dominated by ultra-serious political correctness, what a relief that Rebecca Northan knows how to have fun in a thoroughly professional way.
Her touring show Undercover, on the Citadel’s cabaret stage through April 29, 2018, is a good old-fashioned murder mystery, a whodunit, complete with an old mansion, a dark and stormy night and black-outs in which the bereaved very suddenly, with much shrieking, becomes the bereaved.
But it’s a whodunit with a fantastically fun twist.
Every night, the show's assistant detective is an audience member, drawn at random to play the part.
The script is cleverly written to let the latest and ever-changing member of the cast control the plot.
As Northan says in thanking the audience/cast member at the end of the show, the second half of the show has never ever repeated itself – something always changes thanks to the latest cast member’s input.
I am beginning to think, in retrospect, that Northan’s plot is designed to go any one of five or six ways, that perhaps there’s a different victim each evening, that any one of the suspects at the dinner party could end up professing to be the murderer, with a perfectly plausible storyline.
Which is a tad mind-boggling in terms of writing a play that’s improvisational, full of laughs, and is in truth a splendid send-up of murder mysteries because, face it, every murder mystery is pretty much the same as the next one.
Before Undercover, The Eastern-based Northan bought her first improv-comedy show Blind Date to the Citadel, in which an audience member played her co-star, and date for the evening.
Undercover is a big expansion of the concept, given it has six actors playing 10 characters, not counting the always newest member of the cast, picked from the crowd. All are highly experienced in the improvisational business, which truly is a specialized type of theatre that depends on quick and funny minds working almost as one.
This is one fun show, in the spirit of farce and slapstick, with the actors encouraged to be as broad as possible. Northan is not only the producer, director and co-writer (with writing partner Bruce Horak who also plays a legally blind visual artist … which is what he is in real life too) but serves as the central actor as Det. Sergeant Collins, and, in fact, somewhat directs the show while on stage. Certainly there are lines and signals which tell the other actors which way the plot is going to go.
It’s fun, it’s fresh, it’s a delightful send-up of the gumshoe murder-mystery genre … and every night is going to be a surprise both to the ensemble and the audience, depending on who comes out of the audience to take over the show!