Noir in Blue
TWO STARS | The whole piece plays like a parody but is maddeningly serious
Company: THEATrePUBLIC, Edmonton
Venue: 1 — John Hirsch Theatre
The music in this noir mystery is directive and inoffensive — but the writing is tone-deaf to both the genre and to modern sensibilities.
Ostensibly a song cycle based on the rhythms of Depression-era detective novelist Raymond Chandler, the show — despite the trench coat clichés — is set in 1988 and revolves around heroin, Vietnamese crime lords and dirty cops.
You might think the biggest problem is that the whole piece plays like parody but is maddeningly serious. But that's far from the biggest problem.
The portrayal of Asian characters by white actors, especially given the nasty stereotypes offered up, was off-putting.- Lara Rae
The writing strays far from Chandler. The show is so badly written that where it is not misogynist it just feels icky — and where it is not icky, it is borderline racist. The portrayal of Asian characters by white actors, especially given the nasty stereotypes offered up, was off-putting.
Actor Laura Olafson stepped in a week ago, but you wouldn't know it — she can really sing. Cory Schmitt is good but less of a vocalist. Writer-composer Kenneth Brown plays impressively in the background, but is less impressive as an actor.
The mystery plot is crammed into the last five minutes in a tsunami of exposition. There is nothing compelling about the story and the song cycle has no build. Everyone does their best but it's not enough to redeem the glaring flaws.