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Murderers

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Be warned: Jeffrey Hatcher has been plotting to shake you up. With laughter. His scheme is introducing you to three very likable people. Nice people. Good people. Murderers, however.

Expect nothing bloody; this is not The Lieutenant of Inishmore. No splattering of gore. No prosthetics. Oh. Wait a minute. The three people onstage in three great scenes are surrounded by individuals with prosthetic attachments because they all live ... for a while ... at Florida's Riddle Key Senior Retirement Living Center and Golf Course.

Actors Daniel Krell, Jennifer Harmon and Sheila McKenna devilishly personify each murderer with superb timing and pace, sequentially holding the stage alone, while also excellently characterizing multiple characters hanging in there around the neighborhood. While mostly everybody expects a death naturally caused, some will end up on autopsy slabs, even though they had been able to breathe without respirators. Director Michael Bush leads everyone along hilarious paths to die for.

Murderers finds youthful, ironic, clever Gerald Halverson (Krell) confessing that he married the aging, weak-kidneyed mother of his live-in girlfriend. However, a local gigolo -- only in his 60s -- has threatened their seemingly idyllic existence.

Meanwhile, slightly bitchy Lucy Stickler's less-than-idyllic life with Bob, her husband of 47 years, needs some serious reexamining when an old ... yeah right ... girlfriend of his, Margaret, settles in nearby. With Bob popping Viagras as if they were salted nuts, Lucy (played by Harmon) justifies why she's got to fix their little red golf wagons.

Good-hearted Minka Lupino (McKenna) is a Riddle Key staffer. Dig that name. And dig some graves because, as a devotee of mystery books, she's got the dirt on dispatching victims. Plus, she likes the residents, and doesn't like nasty, grasping families or other exploiters of the aging nursing their souls while their frames struggle on valiantly. Minka devises mercy, and the soon-to-be-justifiably-killed haven't got a prayer.

Along with non-stop fun, Hatcher also cleverly lays out some insight and compassion. He's not making fun of aging; he's having fun with it. However, he warns that those who reveal too much about his tales may risk retribution. And, because he's come up with intricate, murderous schemes, look out! He's sitting up there on the stage in the final scene, eyes fixed on us.

Worried about laughing at the frailties of the elderly? Oh, come on. All of us lifetime members of AARP have to go some time. Better to go delighted. And City Theatre looks like a good place to go.

Murderers continues through Dec 22. City Theatre, 1300 Bingham St., South Side. 412-431-2489 or www.citytheatrecompany.org

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