I have a thing for snowy winters — for the idea of them, at least. I think they do wonders for the romance and intrigue of a story. The crunch of boots in snow, the roaring fires, the deliciousness of warmth finally received and all the possibilities of closeness that come with snowstorms, hot cups of cocoa and cabins in Vermont make fertile ground for a cozy little romance.
On the flip side, snowy winter settings also make for chilling murder mysteries: what with the blackouts, the snowed in vehicles, the long quiet nights, those unfamiliar footprints in the snow and let’s not forget that lone, ominous axe that’s sitting in the corner (presumably for woodcutting)… throw in a shady character with a motive and that’s enough to have me nibbling at my fingernails and shivering in my seat.
The Metro Theatre‘s production of Making a Killing by John Nassivera is a pleasant mixture of the above two scenarios. It has the coziness of an isolated wooden cabin in Vermont, but also the chilly bitterness of a murder in the offing.
The characters are the sort that keep you guessing — those surrounding the protagonist are alternately sweet and then seditious — they appear to genuinely care for him, a few lines later are greedy for their cut of his profits. It’s a play where the blurry moral scruples make interesting things happen — like a playwright faking his own death with the help of his friends, only to discover that perhaps his friends aren’t really faking…
Making a Killing has a funny take on the popular maxim that artists are only ever appreciated after they’re dead. Its characters paint entertaining pictures of showbiz stereotypes in the figures of the narcissistic (over)actress (played wonderfully by Kathryn Stewart), the smarmy, opportunistic producer (played by Joseph Balint) and the playwright’s results-driven agent (played by Anita Reimer) who talks-a-mile-a-minute, drives a hard bargain and can’t be fooled. Reimer’s character shows increasing amounts of depth as the play goes on, and her growing connection with the dry, witty, existentially fraught protagonist (Blaine Anderson) becomes the play’s one true thing. All four actors did a great job — I especially enjoyed Anita Reimer’a outrageously entertaining New York accent — and I’m sure their performances have only gotten funnier and more nuanced since opening night last week.
The set, sound, lighting and costume design were phenomenal and deserve a special mention– I really did feel like I was in a lonely, well-furnished cabin in Vermont, and that there really was a snowy driveway offstage. Bravo to Don Briard, Les Erkine & Heather Stewart, Miles Lavkulich and Val Palosaari — and anyone else who helped with the ambience — for pulling this effect off so well.
Congratulations to Alison Schamberger for directing such an enjoyable performance!
You can see John Nassivera’s Making a Killing at the Metro Theatre at 8 p.m. until October 29th, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday Oct 23.