BWW Review: ART OF MURDER at CAT Theatre Is Unfortunately Artless

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BWW Review: ART OF MURDER at CAT Theatre Is Unfortunately Artless

"Art of Murder" is a mystery play that won the prestigious Edgar award in 2000. Joe DiPietro, who's written such hits as "Memphis" and "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," was notably less successful with this show, now onstage at CAT Theatre.

It's an overwrought, undercooked kind of mystery with surprises that fail to shock. Jack Brooks, a boorish but successful artist, shares a remote Connecticut home with his young wife Annie, also a painter. Their top-of-the-line art dealer, Vincent, comes up from Manhattan for a visit, but skullduggery is on the evening's agenda.

No spoilers here, but the production is already spoiled by a bombastic acting style that leaves all the characters looking silly. Every breath the dandified Vincent (played by D.C. Hopkins) takes is a gasp. Aaron Willoughby plays Jack's egotism by tilting his chin up and adjusting his jacket a lot. Emily Turner is much sharper and more focused as Annie, but she can't make DiPietro's series of twists look credible. And in the thankless role of Kate, the maid, Charlotte Topp sports a charming Irish accent but is otherwise unremarkable.

Sheila Russ' costumes and Alan Armstrong's lighting are serviceable, and Elizabeth Allman's set is attractive, but the onstage isolation tank--an important prop, and in the living room, no less--looks like nothing but the wooden box it is. Hunter Mass' sound design is good, but Aaron Orensky's fight choreography is unconvincing.

Zachary Owen, whose direction of "The Diviners" was so good at CAT last year, lets us down with this production, delivering neither thrills nor laughs.

CAT Theatre, 419 No. Wilkinson Rd.

Through: October 12

Tickets: $25 adults, $20 RVATA members, $15 students

Info: (804) 804-262-9760 or cattheatre.com



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From This Author Susan Haubenstock