Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Gentleman's Guide Laugh-Out-Loud Funny

The Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is a hard one to explain. There may be some spoilers in this review, but little that is not in the program or the opening numbers. The music is complex and not something you will find yourself humming for hours after or running out to buy the cast album.  It is also perfect for the show. It has a wonderful set that combines projections and lighting that is both subtle and fantastical.  I would also hate to be the prop master for this show because, like most bawdy farces, it is prop after prop after prop.  More than anything else it is one of the funniest pieces of  visual musical comedy that I've seen hit the stage in some time.  It is a true gem.

So let me try to explain to you what I can.  Meet  Lord Montague "Monty" D'Ysquith Navarro, Ninth Earl of Highhurst, whose mother died penniless because she had been disowned by the wealthy and powerful D'Ysquith family for running off and marrying a Spanish musician.  Monty did not know he was a D'Ysquith and when he discovers this, he attempts to reunite with his estranged and strange family.  They treat him as they did his mother: horribly.  So in order for Monty to claim his inheritance and eventually become the Ninth Earl of Highhurst, Monty must eliminate all those in between including the Eighth Earl.  That number would be eight extremely odd human, and I use the term loosely,  beings.

And so it begins that Monty creatively begins to kill off his cousins.  In the show, Monty's D'Ysquith cousins are all played by the same actor.  I always worry when I see a show that involves one actor playing several roles that the show will become like a bad Jerry Lewis movie.  Let me allay your fears.  The same actor playing all the cousins makes the show wonderful because John Rapson is amazing as is the entire cast. Kevin Massey who plays Monty is a wonderful serial killer too. (You may recognize Rapson and Massey at the two guys who sung The Star Spangled Banner at the Bronco's overtime win against the Patriots.) The wonder of this show is that the audience is rooting for Monty despite the fact that he has a married mistress and is also married to his cousin, the only D'Ysquith he doesn't need to kill.
The musical is based on 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman. The novel also inspired the 1949 black comedy movie Kind Hearts and Coronets. The eight roles played by Rapson were also played by one actor, Sir Alec Guinness. The family name in the movie is D'Ascoyne. The musical is based on the novel since the writers did not have rights to the 1949 movie.

The show is marked not only by a spectacular set but also wonderful music that often breaks into counterpoints involving trios and duets.  The blending of music and voice is mesmerizing and the show from physical and classic farce-style acting to the songs and dialog are all tremendously funny. By the time the curtain call rolls around you will find yourself standing there grinning like a foolish D'Ysquith.

See it.