ROPE – Willamette Week Pick!
Wyndham Brandon is bored (and more than just a little unhinged) when he convinces his friend and classmate to help him commit a motiveless act of murder. They strangle their fellow undergraduate and stash his body in a chest. But all that happens before the curtain even rises. The two then host a dinner party where the serve a meal to the father of the boy they killed off a box that contains his son’s body. If that sounds twisted, it is, and delightfully so. What follows is a parade of characters so ridiculously exaggerated that drama becomes farce. Brandon (a cocksure Trevor Jackson) is positively giddy, longing to brag about his genius.
But Michael Tuefel as the cynical poet Rupert Cadell steals the spotlight every second that he’s onstage. Channeling a cross between John Waters and Stewie Griffin, Tuefel’s every action is enrapturing – from a sidelong suspicious stare to a spittle-flecked, red-faced rant. Guest Director Rusty Tennant challenges us to regard death, or murder specifically, as a matter of perspective. Are we rooting for the murderers to be punished, or get away with it?
The biggest surprise might be your own reaction to the ending.
PENELOPE BASS, Willamette Week