Last night, I took in what was for me, the last show of the Fringe. After doing a Fringe schedule that was heavy on topical, and thought provoking shows, my last choice was made strictly on expected entertainment value. I chose to go see The Man Who Wasn’t There by Marc A. Moir, and the play more than lived up to expectations.
The play is done as a radio play, complete with sound effects. The stage is set up as a radio studio, and all the equipment is set on a table so you are able to watch as well as listen to the sound effects as they are created by Garry Moir, whose character is the aptly named Mr. Foley.
The radio play being staged is also called “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” a classic noir radio detective drama. Marc A. Moir, plays a hapless bit part player who through a series of incidents, briefly summed up at the beginning of the play is cast into the role of the lead actor and all of the other male characters as well. Laura Kathleen Turner plays the role of the show’s female star, a blond femme fatale.
In addition to doing foley work Garry Moir also doubles as the radio announcer who does the commercial breaks for the radio broadcast. In a nice touch, the commercials are for local businesses that had a hand in the sponsoring of the play and come complete with a couple of humorous anachronisms for a play that is set in 1949.
The radio play itself makes for a compelling drama, even if the ending is somewhat telegraphed throughout. Much of this compelling aspect is credited to Marc A. Moir’s delivery of the script. Moir takes on the roles of roughly half a dozen characters at time, and makes them all quite distinct. Of all the characters that he does the Irish cop is the only one that at times loses it’s vocal characterization from time to time.
On the other hand, M. A. Moir does the lead character of private detective Harry Doyle in the voice of Jimmy Stewart and offers up a very fine impersonation. One of the strengths of it is that he eschews the drawn out stammering that characterized the Rich Little style of impersonation for a more general sense of how Mr. Stewart sounded.
This was also a personal highlight of the play for me, given the comments that I made about M. A. Moir’s performance in Padre X. It seems a little odd hearing stereotypical Chinese and Mexican accents, but that would be how it was done in 1949.
Ms. Turner as the alluring young woman who is ensnaring the detective into a complex web of deception, provides the character with the kind of glamour and sass of the type that one associates with the female stars of the era. In addition to this she provides the musical background on the keyboard along with teaming up with M. A. Moir on a very creditable jingle duet.
One of the nicer effects of the show is how the three characters interact with each between the scenes of the radio play. These little, usually silent scenes, move forward the idea that this is a radio play being staged and that the characters have a life outside of the characters they portray in the radio script.
All told this is an amusing play. Not a great deal of substance to it, but a lot of fun, and laughter.
Give this one 4.5/5 and try and fit it in if you haven’t seen it.