AISLE SAY Florida

MURDERERS

by Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Mark Rucker
Asolo Repertory Theatre
FSU Center for the Performing Arts/Mertz Theatre
5555 N. Tamiami Tr., Sarasota,
941-351-8000 or 800-361-8388
March 13 through May 23, 2009, in repertory

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

 
Don’t expect a play. Murderers consists of three separate monologues introduced together by their speakers admitting “I am a murderer.” Each gets to explain during a serial third of 95 minutes. In a palm-treed section of the Riddle Key Luxury Retirement Community and Golf Course under calm sky near Sarasota, Florida, today, set exteriors are projected onto the background. Furniture and props appear or recede, as needed, from slits in the blue-gray side walls.
 
Middle-aged Gerald Halverson (Bryan Torfeh), slim, dark and handsome in traditional tuxedo, tells of a convoluted plot by his long-time lover’s mother to avoid having her daughter pay inheritance taxes.  He agrees to marry the sick older woman, moving to Florida to spend her expected final days. After receiving her estate as community property, he’s to pass it on, untaxed, to the daughter by wedding her. However, as mother gets re-diagnosed and as Florida re-invigorates her, Gerald transfers his affections. Unfortunately a real gigolo in the community reverses the course of Gerald’s new-old wife, leaving him the choice of being incriminated in her death or blackmailed. While this is the most complicated and far-fetched of the three stories, unfolded almost completely by narration with several changes of voice and limited gesture, you’ll find Torfeh’s Gerald a slick story-teller.
 
With white hair, jutting chin, slumped shoulders, and what seems to be a drawl clipped on its way out, bath-robed Ann Morrison is as you’ve never known this usually effervescent redheaded musical star. She plays 78-year-old Lucy Stickler. (The last name’s descriptive.) A glamorous flirt, with whom Lucy’s husband Bob once cheated on her, has recently moved into the complex. Since, Bob’s been off daily, supposedly devoted to charitable pursuits with the guys.  Lucy tracks him. When she discovers his hidden stash of Viagra, she plans ingenious other uses of pills. All befit a lethal ending with Morrison’s Lucy triumphing in appropriate royal purple.
 
Minka Lupino’s life as an employee (well groomed Mercedes Herrero, typifying the pleasant realty businesswoman) is pretty much routine until the day a mystery writer takes one of the apartments.  With murder on her mind, Miss Lupino is disgusted at how young heirs, caring only for their inheritance, totally disregard the disposition of their just-deceased mother. So Miss Lupino sees to the disposal, and not just of her ashes. Soon she goes about doling out justice to more than one greedy jewel or money seeker. (Herrero’s finest moments involve her describing her methods, whether involving laundry or golf carts.)  Just as the writer’s mystery involves theatre people, the ending is theatrical and involves the writer. Enough said! You’ll have to hear Herrero tell it.
 
Do go to enjoy Jeffrey Hatcher’s witty stories as presented on Erik Flatmo’s clever set by the three actors, so well directed by Mark Rucker. You’ll recognize as appropriate Emily Rebhotz’ costumes, particularly if you look around at the rest of the audience. Thom Weaver has captured lighting typical of Florida’s Suncoast and Matthew Parker evidences his  experience as Asolo’s sound designer. Kelly Borgia is Stage Manager; Candance Knowles, Assistant Director.

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