I was greeted by some slow jazz as smooth as the wood veneer on the desk set centre stage. A single yellow light illuminated him and his two chair friends sitting in front of him. The chairs had their back to the desk as if they were whispering a secret plot to each other. Four panels outlined the upstage left corner, creating a narrow cat walk where the actors could strut on and flaunt their goods. Needless to say, on this opening night the tension was thick as a London fog, and just as mysterious.
The Detective, The Dame, and the Devil is a three-act play featuring Scott Humphrey (LARPS, The Shape of Things) as Detective Ace Spadesy, Elizabeth Neale (LARPS, Contractions) as the Dame Scarlett Ruby, and Adam Capriolo (Twelfth Night, Spring Awakening) as the “Devil”. Written by Humphrey and directed by Stephanie Costa, the production lives in the realm of the classic film noir genre and uses its tropes to great comedic and narrative effect.
The show makes use of its three acts to examine the outlook of each one of the characters, each giving their account of events from their respective points of view in a consecutive manner. One at a time they tell the story as they see it, meaning the acts are cut up in about twenty minute sections for each version of the narrative. The pacing of the play feels very natural, and is used as a tool to emphasize conversations or moments that are important to each character.
The genre allows the performers to play their roles with austerity and deliver lines that are filled with nuance and puns in a serious way. The shifting perspective then allows them to portray the characters in a caricatured fashion, showcasing when one sees another as being of inferior intelligence. This contrast proves a fun way of using repetition for comedic purposes. The classic noir device of monologuing to the audience includes a battery of clever and, at times, extremely blunt and on-the-nose quips about the other characters, the action, or the emotion of the scene. As a result, it feels like each of the actors has a great time playing up the tropes and the different versions of the characters, all while managing to captivate onlookers with their skill and commitment.
This show’s set design, while rather simple, is littered with details that any seasoned or infrequent theatre-goer can enjoy and appreciate, such as the way that the set is shifted when the narrator switches, to mimic the change in perspective. The use of mirrors at the end is also a clever nod to the idea that we as the audience are seeing the characters repeated from different angles. When it came to the sound, music played a significant part of building the suspense and atmosphere, and it was used effectively without ever being overbearing. There was even a lip-sync number that was executed perfectly and seamlessly.
I highly recommend The Detective, The Dame, and the Devil. It has something for every Fringe-goer, whether it be the witty repartee and clever dialogue, the interesting and funny characters, the comedic interpretation of the noir genre… I could go on and on, but the point is that this is an entertaining show that uses the noir genre to great comedic effect and it meets the high expectations it set at its preview during the Fringe-For-All.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Alex Gauthier
Vertical Heart Productions presents
“The Detective, The Dame, and The Devil”
When: June 8 – 17, 2017
Where: La Chapelle, 3700 Saint-Dominique
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
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