Long Dark Night: goofy and enjoyable
This musical send-up of Film Noir and its myriad of stereotypes is a goofy and enjoyable addition to the SummerWorks festival lineup.
Written and directed by Mark Shyzer, Long Dark Night hits all the familiar notes of the genre: a square jawed detective, a femme fatale, a loyal secretary, a grim-faced goon, deceit, betrayal, and cold-blooded murder. The story tends to wander and lose steam at certain points (there will be no comparisons to Chinatown made here), but it doesn’t matter much given just how funny it is. In fact there are a few weak points in this production - like the fact that the cast only contains only a couple of capable singers - but it’s forgivable given the entertainment value of the piece. Linguistic loop-de-loops, groan-worthy puns, and forth wall jokes all come erupting from the stage at a steady pace, interspersed with jazzy and well composed musical numbers like the memorable “Fuck ‘Em All”.
The production is a little still rough around the edges (some of the scene transitions are pretty clunky) but a steady performance from John McNeill as Skip Tracer, the ever-wobbling private eye, and a delightful scene stealing turn by Jessica Moss as Irene Pffeffener, Skip’s brassy and chipper secretary, help to mitigate its limitations.
Long Dark Night isn’t grade A theatre, nor is it a top notch musical, but it is a fantastic comedy and for that the creative team can be proud.