Don’t even think about guessing the ending
Gary Alan Wright kills in Corpse!. This versatile actor portrays eccentric identical twins in Foothill Theatre Company’s madcap murder mystery that’s a whodunit-to-whom? Wright’s seemingly effortless performance in dual roles of very different brothers is not only an acting tour de force, his twin feat is also a double delight to watch.
Wright gets help in pulling off this convoluted crime caper with a sharp, funny script by playwright Gerald Moon, impeccable timing by the three-person supporting cast, taut staging by director Greg Alexander and a very clever set.
Wright plays estranged identical twin brothers Evelyn and Rupert Farrant. Evelyn is an out-of-work diva actor in 1930s London with major childhood resentments toward his highly successful businessman brother Rupert.
Evelyn avoids rent-seeking, bottle-toting landlady Mrs. McGee (Mary Baird) while cooking up ways to bump off his bro. He’s invited Major Powell (Rick Kleber), a criminal on the lam, up to lunch to discuss sending Rupert on a “permanent vacation.” Evelyn wields quite the menacing knife while chopping onions and trash talking his twin. (Wright multitasks by actually cooking some impressive blinis onstage while reciting his recipe for murder).
The scene changes to Rupert (also Wright), a suave, debonair man-about-town in his mansion. Not only are the two sets depicting a low-rent basement apartment and an upscale foyer spot-on, they’re also an impressive engineering feat to watch, as the dreary flat opens up, twirls around and turns inside-out to become the ritzy digs.
With Wright changing characters as many times as the set changes, half the fun for the audience is appreciating the dueling performances while figuring out how it’s done, especially when the two brothers portrayed by one actor appear in the same scene. Aiding and abetting the follies are an amusing Kleber as the clumsy criminal, an endearing Baird as the tipsy landlady and Scott Young as the earnest Constable Hawkings. All together, the winning cast gives us multiple murders, motives and suspects that keep us guessing (wrongly) right up to the end.