The Mysterious Mystery of Mystery Street
nytheatre.com review by Richard Lovejoy
February 26, 2011
Noir and comedy make natural companions. Firesign Theatre had Nick Danger, Steve Martin had Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and the FRIGID Festival has Sergio Solorzano's The Mysterious Mystery of Mystery Street.
The Mysterious Mystery of Mystery Street is generally quite funny. It suffers from unevenness in the script and casting, but ultimately it is likable. The setup should be familiar to anyone with a passing awareness in noir. A woman in a (you guessed it!) red dress (Maggie McGuire) approaches a pair of private eyes (Sergio Lodolce and Adam Brome) to track down her illegitimate half brother (CJ Fischer.) Naturally, sinister twists and comic turns abound.
The design elements are serviceable and the cast is generally capable, with Ed Altman's portrayal of the Mayor as a particular standout. Solorzano, who wrote the play, also directs. For the most part, he keeps the pace appropriate and stages the action effectively.
The script is a couple cuts away from really crackling, but even in its current form it has plenty of great moments. It succeeds best when it is blatantly absurd and the characters are engaging that ridiculousness straight-faced. For example, Lodolce's private eye says to another character "So let's say you sell these drugs and make more in year than I make in a year…" Nobody comments, and the line lands beautifully. Unfortunately, there are too many times where the script becomes "self-aware." Characters comment on things the audience saw "in the last scene." The meta-theatrical humor never quite lands, and there are moments where it kills the otherwise lively pace.
Solorzano also seems to be afraid to completely pull the trigger on some of his best ideas. There is a running gag about Lodolce's character not recognizing something quite obvious to everyone else in the play (and to the audience.) The gag gets funnier as the play progresses—until Solorzano deflates it by having his unobservant protagonist finally clued in. There is a also a moment near the end of the play where Solorzano has an opportunity to create a really fascinating ending—I won't give anything away, but I was disappointed when he instead opted for simple exposition rather than making the more daring choice or at least showing us the resolution. These types of incidents are not fatal however, and ultimately The Mysterious Mystery of Mystery Street is fun.