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Knock ’em Dead!
a Comedy
by Tom Oldendick and Will Roberson

COMPANY : Gypsy Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Sylvia Beard Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4796

SHOWING : October 08, 2015 - October 25, 2015



This unique comedy/murder mystery has six different endings! All hell breaks loose and the laughs fly when five outrageous contestants show up at Vinnie’s Belly Laugh Club for the final talent competition. A ventriloquist with moving lips, a foul mouthed stand-up comedian, a baton twirling bimbo, the flamboyant owner of a lip synching poodle, a chanteuse with a questionable accent and a hypnotist with a twitch all fight to win the grand prize. When Vinnie turns up dead, they’re all suspects and the audience has the time of its life grilling them and fingering the murderer!

Director Mercury
Vinnie T. Bumpcuss Dustin C. Burrell
"Ian" Wayne Jeremy Cooper
Bamby Lynn Rachael Endrizzi
Roxie Barn Casey Gardner
Lotta Verboten Eileen Koteles
The Great Somnambulo Ryan Lamotte
Lou Dumbello Benjamin Mitchell
Hal Brown Pat Young
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DIY Sleuthing
by playgoer
Friday, October 16, 2015
"Knock ’em Dead!" is one of those interactive comedy murder mysteries that throw together a bunch of kooky, suspicious individuals onstage, reveal a murder at the act one curtain, and then let the audience determine who the murderer is in the second act. In this case, it’s not a predetermined outcome. Multiple endings are possible, with audience votes determining the murderer.

Mercury’s set design and sound design work hand-in-hand with Joel Coady’s lighting design to give the feel of a seedy comedy club’s green room on a stormy night. The design elements are fully professional, including Danielle Gustaveson’s costumes and props. Mercury’s direction, however, emphasizes the script’s slow reveal of character after character in the first act. With jokey moments piled on top of suspicious moments piled on top of repetitious actions (everyone is alone in the back room at one time or another!), it’s a slow build-up. There’s a lot of set-up in the first act, with the pay-offs mostly delayed to the second act.

Once the murder has occurred, all the suspects stream into the audience and try to shift suspicion from themselves and onto others. That’s where the actors truly shine, ad libbing in character and interacting their hearts out. The ad libbing continues when they’re brought to the stage and put in the spotlight for questioning. They don’t really reveal much information in their answers, so it’s pretty clear the script is saving confessions until the audience’s choice of murderer is made. That makes the questioning segment a tad tedious, saved only by the charm of the actors.

Some of the actors shine more in the scripted sections; some of the actors shine more in ad lib sections. Only Ryan Lamotte, as The Great Somnambulo, didn’t impress me much in either. Of course, I didn’t experience any of his interactions with individual audience members, so I might have missed qualities that come into the forefront only then.

I don’t know how good a match the show is to Buford audiences. It strikes me as the kind of show that would work best in a booze-lubricated venue where the slightly off-color content and over-the-top performances would get non-stop whoops and hollers. In Buford, the audience doesn’t really seem to take to the action except in the second act, with the introduction of audience participation (limited though it is by the conservative reticence of the audience members). Basically, you’ll have as much fun at the show as you decide you’ll be having. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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