By Kim Jackson
Two actors and one piano amount to 13 characters and a rib-tickling whodunnit in North Carolina Theatre’s current production of Murder for Two. Laughter dominates Joe Kinosian’s and Kellen Blair’s funny murder mystery. But it’s the musical accompaniment that threatens to steal the show. Indeed, the focus is less on solving the crime of who murdered famous mystery writer Anthony Wright during his surprise birthday party and more on the repartee between the two actors. Think of the characterizations between the legendary comedy duo of Tim Conway and Harvey Korman or the more contemporary Key and Peele, and that’s what you have here.
Brandon Lambert plays the singular role of straight man Marcus Moscowitz, a small town cop trying to prove he is worthy of being promoted to detective. His energetic and dynamic performance coupled with some mad piano playing skills is delightful to watch. He also heroically maintains his composure amidst the comic hilarity of Martin Landry.
Landry cycles through multiple roles as all the suspects and contributes to most of the frenetic zaniness of the show while sporting his musical dexterity. His nimble handling of the variety of personalities, from the not-really-grieving widow to a tempestuous ballerina to a cloying psychiatrist is a fine example of stagecraft mastery in motion. He even deftly switches between the roles of a warring married couple with hilarious results, and his antics as members of a boys’ choir contributed to the overall comic atmosphere.
What really makes this 90-minute show work is the seemingly spontaneous harmony and the chemistry between Lambert and Landry. At times, it even seemed as if Landry was improvising and almost provoking Lambert to crack up, as was often the case with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. The pace is brisk, the puns and jokes are amusing, and there is no other agenda here other than to offer the audience some great entertainment, which it certainly does.
Murder for Two runs through May 5th. For more information visit: