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THEATER BEAT

'Perfect Crime' Ends Up Going Awry

November 01, 1996|JANA J. MONJI

Murder shouldn't be as boring as Warren Manzi's "Perfect Crime," which is given a tepid interpretation at the Studio Theatre in the Long Beach Playhouse. Almost nothing works here. The script is confusing, but not in the way that makes one think, "Aha! Now I get it," at the end, but rather in that annoying "it doesn't make sense" or "why didn't . . ." way. The casting results in flat sexual chemistry and the direction lacks momentum.

Two affluent psychiatrists, seductive young Margaret Brent (Anne Hulegard) and her rich husband (Robert Balder), are caught up in a bizarre murder that involves a strange redheaded English girl, the wonders of modern technology and an old love affair.

Hulegard is lovely enough, but no sparks fly between her and the men she seduces. Director Gregory Cohen can't flesh out these characters with small twitchings of motives and dark psychological realities.

"Perfect Crime" is far from perfect, and the only crime here is the absence of both suspense and thrills.

* "Perfect Crime," Studio Theatre, Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Nov. 17 and 24, 2 p.m. Ends Nov. 30. $10-$15. (310) 494-1616. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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