They All Wanted in the Act
nytheatre.com review by Gyda Arber
August 15, 2004
Bill Mooney's one-man show They All Wanted in the Act tells the story of the Lindbergh kidnapping and resulting trial. This bizarre story is 100% true, and Mooney covers all the facts, evidence, and theories about the strange events occurring between 1932 and 1935.
Mooney uses no props or costumes to portray the many characters (who all wanted in on the act)—instead, he takes on the role of storyteller, guiding the audience through the many events and letting the various characters "inhabit" him when necessary, and allowing his own thoughts and feelings about these events to punctuate the play. Mooney is a gifted actor and portrays a host of characters, from Mr. & Mrs. Lindbergh, policemen, and servants to Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the accused, all with sensitivity and insight. His script is thorough, though at times feels more like a fascinating history lesson than a piece of entertainment.
Very different from the usual fringe fare, They All Wanted in the Act is a surprisingly simple production. The program notes state that the show was originally performed at the New Jersey courthouse where the Lindbergh trial took place, which seems like the perfect venue for this work; however, it is nice to see, among all the shows vying to be the next Urinetown, an uncomplicated, straightforward production telling a fascinating story.