Two and a half stars
Phoenix Theatre; Directed by Bryan Fonesca, Nicolas Crisafulli and Gigi Jennewein
It’s easy to see why, when Phoenix pulled Love, Person from its summer schedule, the theater replaced it with this easy to produce trio of monologues: small cast, little scenery, no costume changes. Unfortunately, Jeffrey Hatcher’s Murderers also runs low on believable stories or genuine feeling. Like Hatcher’s Three Viewings, which the Phoenix has also produced, Murderers links three narrators with a shared setting, this time a Florida retirement community. Here, he relies too much on old jokes about old people, their odd nicknames (Pepper and Puss), their dull TV shows and their fabled need to sleep by sundown. From the gigolo married to the wealthy widow to the good-hearted rental agent who kills anyone who preys on seniors, it plays too much like Murder, She Wrote without being ironic. The static first tale and dully retold last story perhaps reveal a lack of prep time between stars and directors. The middle monologue (directed by Crisafulli) stands out, however, with Hatcher’s surprising insights into one woman’s heartache and Gayle Steigerwald’s dynamic performance. Retiree Lucy is fit to be tied when she realizes that her husband’s 1970s lover has followed them from the north to rekindle the affair 30 years later. Though the plot gets hokey with prescription bottle switches, this is murder we can believe in. Through Aug. 16; 317-635-PLAY.