Conversations In Tusculum
4.5 out of 5
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..".It's as if Joseph Zettelmaier couldn't contain all his ideas into a single play.
So he created a script that could accommodate a whole slew of dramatic agendas.
In the end, it's as if he's wrapped up two plays into a single script.
And the amazing thing is that both are pretty entertaining.
The first act is an adoring and witty homage to film noir.
There's a hard-drinking, down-and-out private eye, Frank, and the slinky dame who hires him to solve a murder.
Turns out, she's one of four authors of pulp novels suspected of killing the agent who represented all of them.
There are plot twists.
And twists on twists.
And loads of witty dialogue, too, as Zettelmaier walks an ever-so-fine line between homage and spoof....
Zettelmaier is a wonderfully facile storyteller.
But he doesn't always play by the rules, which we discovered so delightfully [in] his play ALL CHILDISH THINGS...
And then there's Act Two.
Frank's investigation moves forward, but along the way, Zettelmaier finds a way to immerse us in each of the four writers' genres of pulp.
It's a clever device.
And it works, giving us more information about each of them than if he followed a more traditional exposition.
There's the slinky dame--Desiree St Clair is her unlikely name--who writes romance novels, while Bradley Rayburn writes science fiction.
(He's also an inventor, a pastime that provides a major plot twist late in the play.) Walter Kingston-Smith is a writer of so-called "hero pulp," while R A Lyncroft creates particularly gruesome horror novels.... ...savvy plotting and clever repartee..."
David Lyman, Cincinnati Enquirer