A murder mystery dance show? As the curtain rose, I’d already made one critique: murder mysteries are too detail-oriented to work as dance. (There’s a reason why ballet plots are usually broad.) How can the “Aha!” Raymond Chandler moment possibly reach the audience?
I was wrong. Intrigue, a mystery on marley…, performed by company draMAStic dance works, is easy to follow and fun to watch. An original production by founder and artistic director Mary A. Stiegelbauer (who also dances as the Secretary), Intrigue is stylish and beautifully acted.
The body of the Victim (Dwight L. Trice, Jr.) is found and the Detective (Jimmy Wencel) is tasked with finding the killer amongst a group of women who all have motives: the Secretary (Mary A. Stiegelbauer), the Girlfriend (Bess Badger), the Wife (Andrea Nealon Misener), and the Mistress (Hannah Hampton).
Each woman gives her testimony in a flashback and performs a duet with the Victim. Trice is a commanding and graceful performer, who especially shines in his duet with Badger, an outstanding dancing actress who plays the sweet, innocent, and expressive Girlfriend to great effect.
Hampton is superb, sultry, and sassy as the Mistress, seducing and toying with the Victim, and later attempting to flirt her way out of a testimony with Wencel as the Detective. Wencel dances well, but lacks the defined, bold facial expressions that the potential murderesses have mastered.
Intrigue, a mystery on marley…
Conceived by Mary A. Stiegelbauer
at Lang – Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
Details and tickets
The score, an intriguing (you knew I’d use this word at least once) blend of pop, classical, and old time music shifts unpredictably from one to the other, helping keep the audience captivated. “Escape Artist” by Zoë Keating works especially well with Misener and Trice’s duet, and “Primavera” by Ludovico Einaudi compliments the innocent and romantic feel of Trice’s duet with Badger perfectly.
Stiegelbauer (who is lovely as the Secretary) has created an innovative and smart dance homage to the murder mystery. In a festival of the unexpected, Intrigue stands out as a gem.
I wish Intrigue’s look had more “flash” and pizzazz, but I understand the limitations of Fringe. I’d love to see it staged again with more refined technical aspects. That being said, the story, fantastic acting, and beautiful dancing are more than enough to be worth your while.