Murder of the Seas
nytheatre.com review by Pamela Butler
August 13, 2008
Murder of the Seas.
A murder mystery.
Why did this show appeal to me first? The title. Murder of the Seas not "Murder on the Seas" as in "on a boat." Given today's worries about the life or death of our planet, our air, our water, our oceans, I thought this offering might be about this plight and how these ships are killers!
From that perspective, the show is surprising. The immediate death in question is not of the buoying waters beneath the ship, but of one of its passengers. Actually there are two deaths, but only one is a diabolical Murder.
The program is our boarding pass and we are about to get on the "M.S. Lovely Nights." I was willing to go with my imagination, since I will never step foot on one of those monstrous floating pollution belchers. Nevertheless I could still conjure the scene, from the moment we were welcomed aboard and wreathed in colorful, fuzzy plastic leis. I was there.
We were ushered into a narrow, long interior room with about 60 folding chairs lined up like ferry seats. In front of us a raised stage is set with a grand piano, an electric bass, a music stand, and a guitar. The lights dim, the shout "All Aboard" echoes in the dark, and we've cast off.
I'm on Deck 9, Berth #227. But right now I'm following writer/performer Pierre-Marc Diennet as he presents all the personalities involved in the disappearance and possible murder of a passenger—the husband of one lovely insurance saleswoman. She, in turn, is lusted after by one of her colleagues who is also on board the ship. They have both won free cruises for having been #1 in insurance sales last year; she was national champ, he was regional. Or so it would seem.
The multi-talented Diennet, with more energy than a freshly charged rabbit, knows these people well, he understands them and portrays them with genuine warmth and great humor. His accompanist, Dave Murelli, Jr., enhances the action on the bass, plays guitar for the songstress diva, and acts a couple of vital fill-in characters. The director, Jason Schuler, has helped create a smooth and fast paced entertainment. They work very well together.
In the course of unraveling the crime, Diennet gives a wry picture of a vacation on one of these floating cities, as he mocks and lampoons the "activities," the gluttony, the complete solipsism of the passengers when they happen upon a revolution and have to bypass the port, only to complain about not being able to get off, and wanting their money's worth. Several of the audience burst out laughing with seeming recognition of his observations; seasoned cruise ship travelers, no doubt.
The plot is a classic whodunit; the charm of the evening is Diennet and his accompanist Murelli, enacting the story. I thought they could trim about 15 minute off the middle, but for an evening of sheer polished talent, wit, and entertainment, this is worth the trip to the far west of downtown.