It’s a simple reflection, namely that the old acting skills have disappeared along with the demise of the old thespians. They played roles that are unrepeatable. We associate them with a superb repertoire, exceptional literature, a certain convention as well as a cabaret tradition that is currently more and more difficult. They were unique. But at least I don’t have the impression that nothing would come after them.
Are you looking for this kind of actorly virtuosity today? But it can still be found in every generation. But if you are looking for a big hit then you can do no better than to go to Toruń, to the Kujawsko-Pomorski Musical Theatre to be exact as it is putting on “Murder for Two” a musical that has been a hit on Broadway for years. We get all that we want: a great script but theatre done with aplomb. It is theatre done with bravura and a madcap enjoyment. This could only be achieved thanks to the actor’s perfection, and a great deal of hard, hard work.
Surrealism in New England
Joe Kinosian wrote the music and Kellen Bar the bonkers text. The action takes place in a pastiche, screwball Agatha Christie style. The plot: a well-known writer is murdered in his home. There is an investigation led by Detective Moscowicz who has to close the investigation before a more experienced detective arrives. Moscowicz, maybe Polish, is still far off from getting his qualifications.
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There are surreal moments but some of the dialogue is surprisingly English. But it’s not set in England but New England. It’s similar to “Arsenic and Old Lace” the 1939 production by Joseph Kesselring, later filmed. It’s interesting that the contemporary cast feels at home in this period provincial atmosphere.
The authors have written most of the parts for just two actors- the most remarkable thing about the text. One plays the policeman and the other most of the characters, including the suspects that are in the house. Here we come to the conventions as the second actor changes into drag or becomes a child. We have to suspend our disbelief but this is done in a purely theatrical manner.
In addition, the protagonists bash out complicated melodies on the piano. They burst into occasional song. When one sings about some matters (let’s call them arias) the other accompanies. It leads to sometimes absurd discussions as to the shallowness of the actor’s profession. Try to encompass all this in the space of two and a half hours? Absolutely…
“Murder for Two” had its premiere in 2011 in Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater. Then it moved onto Broadway where it runs today. It is one of those magical comedy hits played for years all over the world.
Anna Wołek the director of the Kujawski-Pomorski Musical Theatre in Toruń was responsible for bringing over the production to Poland. She first saw it in New York and spoke to both of the creators of the musical. She translated the text.
She showed the text to one of the directors who was to direct the work and he stated that it was undoable. As an afterthought, he added that an ensemble could not be found.