Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Based on the true story of two wealthy law students, Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story’, tells the tale of these so called ‘Thrill Killers’ and the build up to their murder of a young boy in 1924.
The show starts with Nathan Leopold in 1958 sat in front of his parole hearing after being imprisoned for thirty-four years. Recorded voices come from the back of the auditorium and question him about why he now deserves release. This device really makes us feel that as an audience we are a part of the parole board, and gives us the opportunity to judge for ourselves Leopold’s fate. Using flashback interspersed with moments back in 1958, Leopold tells us the chilling story of his and Richard Loeb’s relationship and how their crimes began. The characters motivation for the murder is based on Nietzsche’s idea of the ‘superior human’ and, without giving too much away, the brilliant twist at the end cleverly highlights this theme and the balance of power completely shifts between the two characters.
The striking set and lighting design in this piece works brilliantly to add atmosphere to the almost bare stage and to transform it into the various settings. There are two sets of bars that form the backdrops to this piece; this cleverly keeps the fate of the two characters in the forefront of the audience’s minds. Sometimes it felt that the set was not used to full-capacity in the staging of the play, they had a higher balcony level which was only used once at the very beginning and could have added an extra dynamic to the staging and helped to show a difference in settings.
The pianist and piano were incorporated into the set and in full view of the audience at all times, this meant that the music felt fully incorporated into the story and almost echoed the two characters different personalities. Although beautifully written sometimes the songs were a little similar, and could have used a little more vocal and staging dynamics to set each song apart.
Danny Colligan who plays the seemingly innocent yet obsessive Leopold, and Jo Parsons who is the manipulative Loeb, compliment each other wonderfully. Their dangerous chemistry builds throughout the show and really peaks in the song ‘Thrill Me’, which shows their contrasting views on what they need to be thrilled. They both give brilliant vocal performances throughout, and a highlight was Parsons chilling rendition of ‘Roadster’.
This is an excellent piece of musical theatre, and appeals to a wide audience not just those into musicals. The clever writing and superb acting keeps the audience on tenterhooks throughout the whole show. It does exactly as promises- it will thrill you. Highly Recommended.