Profoundly Creative Requiem for a Gumshoe

The body count is higher than any superhero movie. But there’s no CGI, no fancy effects. Your imagination is engaged as never before. It may scare you, seeing so much death and contemplating the end of the world in Eldritch Theatre’s new show Requiem for a Gumshoe.

Rick Fischmascher is a rumpled private detective and warlock for hire, haunted by the death of his son, and entrenched in the arcane murder of a troubled opera singer.
And he’s the chief suspect.
Requiem for a Gumshoe is a weird-noir, hardboiled mystery, re-telling the Norse legend of Ragnarok in the pulpy style of Raymond Chandler infused with the cosmic horror of HP Lovecraft.

In a very tiny theatre we confront profundities, the end of the world, terror of creatures mythic, morbid and magical. Perhaps they’re all just inside his head, spurting luridly from the madcap imagination of that narrator. Is it real or is he just acting out psychotic fantasies?

You tell me.

Mairi Babb, Lisa Norton & Eric Woolfe

That ambiguity is exciting. When I speak of a delicate razor’s edge it’s sometimes literally true, a sharp blade to divide the quick and the dead, reality from fantasy.

Eric Woolfe is the playwright and the actor portraying Rick, also the designer & builder of the puppets who populate the show. His imagination underlies all of it.

From time to time Eric performs magic that’s as skillfully built into the story as if Eric were composing an opera to show off his voice. To call them “tricks” doesn’t properly honour their contribution.

I lost count of how many characters we meet, created by Mairi Babb and Lisa Norton plus Eric’s many puppets.

There’s a whole team behind Rick /Eric, to help persuade us, taking Eldritch Theatre to a higher level than ever before. Director Dylan Trowbridge, set & costume designer Melanie McNeill, sound designer Verne Good and lighting designer Gareth Crew ensure that we’re engaged, that the craziness grabs us and won’t let go.

I laughed a lot.

I’m asking myself: who should see this? The people I know who love Wagner opera would be boggled by the alliterated lines about Norse gods. I understand Woolfe’s choices as loving and respectful of anything he brings into his story-telling.

Anyone who recalls the similes of Raymond Chandler will enjoy Woolfe’s writing and the way he delivers the lines. Try googling “Raymond Chandler similes”. I found lots, including the following:
• As cute as a washtub.
• As much sex appeal as a turtle.
• As cold as a nun’s breeches.

Woolfe takes it to the next level, expertly sending up the author’s overblown style.

We’re watching virtuoso performances. I didn’t want the show to end. Full disclosure? I’m perhaps as mad as Rick, a devoted fan of Eldritch Theatre and everything they put forth (Frankenstein’s Boy, Doctor Wuthergloom, Space Opera Zero. I dimly remember Eric’s Madhouse Variations, with help from the faded t-shirt I purchased). I’m fascinated by the cathartic interface between laughter and terror.

Requiem for a Gumshoe continues at the Red Sandcastle Theatre until December 4th.

This entry was posted in Books & Literature, Cinema, video & DVDs, Dance, theatre & musicals, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Profoundly Creative Requiem for a Gumshoe

  1. Pingback: Requiem for a Gumshoe - Eldritch Theatre

  2. Pingback: Requiem for a Gumshoe | Red Sandcastle Theatre

  3. Pingback: Best of 2022 | barczablog

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