International Band of Mystery
Emerald, clay, turquoise, silver, onyx, amber, bronze." Fanny, the matriarch of a mansion on the More Moor, prizes a necklace composed of precious, semi-precious, and rather base materials, much like the serial mystery-comedy-drama it lends its name to. It's uneven in content, often sparkling, and invariably pleasant to behold. The Talking Band's The Necklace calls on the services of four playwrights, two directors, 10 actors, and eight separate episodes to unfold its tale of jewel theft, snack foods, and international intrigue.
The first four episodes, which make up the "House of the House" section, introduce the various mysteries that later episodes, the "House of the Mind" section, promise to solve: the black amber, the bone room, the necklace, the girl in the gray sweater, and the ducts (or is it ducks?). We're also introduced to the house's inhabitants, Great-Aunt Fanny, butler John, orphan Donald, ghost Theo, refugee Smallek, and the twins, who are "aggressively 16" and operating a high-earning tech support firm from the depths of the basement. They glide and creep amid Anna Kiraly's gorgeous sets (life-size photographs of descending stairs), lit by Mark Barton.
The peculiar format guarantees a certain incoherence, and apparently quite little rehearsal time, but the actors and directors attempt it jauntily. Paul Zimet's John, David Brooks's Donald, Gibson Frazier's Smallek, and Katie Pearl and Suli Holum as the twins are particular gems. Indeed, The Necklace's form makes for some tangles and frustrations, but we can count ourselves quite happily strung along.
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