Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010

Laughing While They Talk of Murder

Losing Track of Time In the Tenth Street Theatre

By Russ Bickerstaff
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There’s a distinctly different feel to each theatre. In Tandem’s 10th Street Theatre has been the home to productions staged by a number of different companies in the past several months. Sitting down to opening night of In Tandem’s Art of Murder last night felt like an interesting contrast to all the visiting shows that have called the theatre home recently. It’s interesting seeing Chris Flieller walk about the theatre before a show at the 10th Street . . . there he was on opening night walking across  set he’d built in a theatre space he’d co-developed for a theatre company he’d co-founded—and the show was one he’d directed. Very few people can be said to have that kind of familiarity with a physical space . . .

I settled into the front row side seat at the 10th Street—that front row on the side is fast becoming some of my favorite seats in town . . . a local beer in hand, I began to let the play settle-in . . . and it turns out that Joe DiPietro’s Art Of Murder is actually really good as a comedy. Last night’s show was my third in three nights. Seeing some 100 or more shows in a single year, I very rarely find myself losing track of time at the theatre. There’s always some end of my consciousness that’s very awake, very alert and very, very analytical about a show that I’m seeing . . . but somewhere along the line during In Tandem’s Art of Murder, I completely lost track of time during what turned out to be a very, very funny dialogue.

Tiffany Vance plays an artist having a perfectly rational discussion with an art dealer played by T. Stacy Hicks. It’s a perfectly rational discussion in which she s trying to convince him to help her kill her husband. It’s very, very funny. Much of what makes it as funny as it is comes out of the work Hicks and Vance have done with it. Yes, the dialogue itself work on quite a few different levels, but even the weaker comic moments in the script seem to have been brilliantly finessed by Hicks, Vance and Chris Flieller. There’s a particularly clever use of comic silences and pauses in the dialogue . . . it’s as funny in silence as it is when punch lines make it through that silence. And in the process of following it all, intermission came all too soon.

In Tandem’s production of Art Of Murder runs through November 7th at the 10th Street Theatre. Call 414-271-1371 for more info. A full review of the show runs in this week’s Shepherd-Express

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