The latest Red Eye production, will you still love me, tomorrow, is not your everyday walk in the theatrical park. The play focuses not just on crime and murder, but what these acts to do the community as a whole.
The piece uses Fritz Lang's silent classic M as a foundation, but spins the story and experience out in unexpected ways. There is music, shadow puppets, and a frightening real-life radio call at the end. All of this works together to explore how we react to violence.
M. (Kevin McLaughlin) is a clean-cut, quiet chap in a white fedora, bow tie, and suit. He is also preying on the children of the nameless city, whose citizens never suspect the murderer among them.
The citizens seem okay with it at first. The murders don't affect them directly, so they cluck their tongues over the tragedy, but eat up the details of each crime. As the bodies pile up, the nature of their street talk changes. Fear and paranoia spread throughout the city.
All the while, M. drinks his tea and plots his next crime. He even sends a letter, Jack the Ripper-style, to the newspaper, but spends much of his time deciding what kind of pen would be the most appropriate to use.
McLaughlin pulls off the "evil behind a friendly face" persona very well, making the man as bland as can be throughout. This only intensifies the unease, as when he sings the Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face." Paul McCartney lyrics have never sounded so menacing.
The musical choices are often inspired, such as when they work through the '60s rocker "Little Red Riding Hood." In fact, fairy tales make up a good chunk of the backdrop here, as the idea of finding danger when you stray from the proscribed path (even though the danger may be right in front of you anyway) runs throughout the play.
A company of four performers join McLaughlin onstage, along with musician Matt Larson. They help to build the world of this ever-more-frightening city. Director Steve Busa and playwright Katharine Sherman have given the show a dark look that matches the original Fritz Lang film, and also reflects the growing unease onstage.
IF YOU GO:
will you still love me, tomorrow Through April 26 Red Eye 15 W. 14th St., Minneapolis $8-$25 For tickets and more information, call 612-870-0309 or visit online.