Adelaide Fringe 2011
“A man has been found murdered, clutching a woman’s white leather handbag. Was he trying to rob someone when he was shot? Was the bag his? Only diligent detective work will be able to determine what really happened.” Accompanied by a live band that all have cameo appearances and create on cue sound effects as well as dancers of tap, classic and contemporary; Dead Men Don’t is a light-hearted and fun show.
Students from the College of Fine Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas have hit Adelaide with their radio theatre revival of Dead Men Don’t where pretty much all of the cast double up on roles highlighting their acting talents!
Frank Grayson Private Eye is a radio character played by bumbling shy radio star Steve Powell (Ken McCloud). Mistakenly, Steve finds himself in a real life murder mystery and so uses his private eye character’s confidence to help him investigate and solve the crime. McCloud slips between both characters with seamless grace as he narrates most of the story in the classic private eye fashion of the era and gives a great performance of the awkwardly shy Steve.
Tyler Hastings as the hobo father and radio announcer showcases his talent as one of the more deeper and heart-felt characters in the show. Melody Wilson; both Sally and Barbara Mitchell does well playing a seductive heiress as well as breaking out in acapella for a beautiful interpretation of Over the Rainbow.
Todd Espeland has clearly done well directing this tight knit cast who all assist in swift scene changes and work well in the space provided. The minimalistic backdrop and props enable to cast to move freely within the space without relying too heavily on lighting cues or complex scenes; keeping the ‘radio theatre-ness’ workable in a live production.
That said, throughout the show there were moments of staging confusion and lost energy and it would have been good for Todd to find moments to bring the sound effects team to the foreground a bit more. There is a great deal of opportunity to play on the fact the cast is doing a live radio show. We only caught a glimpse of this when Frank passes by a mime shop! That was a moment of genius for the sound effects team.
Dead Men Don’t is a valuable show and a great laugh, particularly the asides and the Australian references!