Before I saw last night’s production of Murth, I thought there were only so many words one could hear in a two hour period of time. I was wrong. Embracing wordiness and wit above plot, and characters, Murth is a wild ride through the world of language.
During Murth‘s (10 second) intermission, one of the actors approaches the stage and implores the audience to remain for the second act, and promises that a semblance of a plot will appear. Since Act 1 followed the story of a Doctor (Charles Matheny) trying to pick up a stripper, and then the hallucinations of that stripper (Danielle Davy), the apology was not unwarranted.
While it is true that Act 2 does have a slightly more functional plot, it is almost entirely independent from the plot of Act 1. Claire, the stripper whom we are led to believe is the main character during the first act (we spend a significant amount of time in her mind), does not appear in Act 2 till the last few minutes, and even then her presence seems out of place. Perhaps I am out of line, but I am of the belief that if your script ever needs to apologize for itself, another draft is in order.
The writing of Murth attempts the rapid fire witticisms that were popularized by last years film “Juno”, but falls short. Actors spit out jokes, word plays, and cultural references at such a high rate that any greater meaning is entirely lost. Frequently the writing is smart, and the references apt, but none of it can be enjoyed as the audience is far too busy trying to irk out some idea of the plot, or at least figure out what the characters are actually saying. I also found that several actors were hard to hear, which only added to the confusion, and with only one exception, everyone on stage felt as if they were drowning in the unwieldy script.
Elliot Dash, who played Officer Angus Malarkey, was the only actor who I felt was able to take control of the etymological deluge. He was clear, funny, and used to its fullness his impressive vocal range to bring some meaning to the script; unfortunately Dash has the least stage time.
In the end, Murth fails because of its script. The cast is obviously made up of talented actors who have done their best with the script given to them. With several more drafts, Murth could obtain its potential for comedy but as it stands, the script reads like a self-important trip through the playwright’s own mind. All of the characters – as diverse as strippers, doctors, a character described as The Human Dictionary, and the pope – speak in the same way. The laughs are there, if you can find them.
See it if you are in the mood to decipher almost 2 hours of rapid fire word play, and find great joy in recognizing heavily veiled cultural references.
Skip it if plays with out a plot and clear characters make your head hurt, or you left your super-hearing at home