- Courtesy John Zincone
- Everyone's a little suspicious at first.
There's a special joy in comedic murder mysteries, a certain satisfaction in guessing the perpetrator when you're given the silliest possible clues.
For the most part, Funky Little Theater Company's The Bold, The Young, and the Murdered by Don Zolidis inspires that feeling, with a few bumps along the way.
The plot is simple and ridiculous — a soap opera in a ratings lurch, a big cast with plenty of internal conflict, and an ultimatum: Film a full episode in one night or the show's canceled. When people start dropping dead, the cast and crew have bigger priorities, namely keeping their jobs and getting famous off the scandal.
Be prepared to let out some ugly, snorting laughter in the first act, thanks partly to the delightful contrast between the cast's on-screen and off-screen personas.
John Zincone (John/"Valencio") plays the soap opera villain — sipping sherry and delivering melodramatic monologues — and the aging actor, a grumpy old man whose primary concerns are getting a bowl of soup and keeping his parking spot. He hits delicate comedic timing, transforming between the two.
The strongest performance comes from Sallie Walker (Cybil/"Mona"), a delirious actress. Her over-the-top expressions, inability to dress herself, perfectly timed pulls on a long cigarette and foggy confusion over events in Mona's life that she thinks occurred in hers all contribute to some of the funniest scenes in the play. I don't know how many times I turned to my companion on the ride home and said, "But Sallie, though."
The rest of the cast (an impressive if overwhelming 14 people squeezed onto Funky's small stage), has standout moments. Desiree Myers' (Lily/"Sequoia") soap opera character is as grating as she is breathlessly funny, taking the "valley girl" voice to a level I didn't even know was possible.
Dylan McClintock (Morris/"Jake") plays a satisfying straight man in contrast to the ridiculousness of his castmates, the refreshing voice of reason who asks the questions the audience wants to ask, namely "isn't it obvious who did it?"
And that is where the play runs into a hitch. About 30 minutes into the first act, it is pretty obvious. The script throws in a twist, but it's not, you know, M. Night Shyamalan.
The second act drags out the big reveal, accusing everyone before finally settling on the person you knew all along was responsible.
Normally I wouldn't fault a murder mystery for making the killer obvious (it's all in good fun after all), but the script sacrifices some of the funniest content (dead bodies popping up everywhere, the cast staunchly committing to filming while literally walking over them, etc.) for a series of fake-outs that don't actually fake anyone out.
Not to say that the second act doesn't have its moments. In fact, I got some of my biggest laughs during the final murder. But it fails a little on the "mystery" front.
The Bold is less "whodunnit?" and more "who's going to do what next?" which isn't a deal-breaker. Go in expecting a comedy rather than a mystery, and you're set.