Dr. Tuttle, o mais promeniente membro de uma comunidade perdida nos anos 50, e sua esposa Tex, uma cantora amadora, aparentam ter uma relação estável. Porém, paixões obscuras e frustradas agitam o relacionamento que pode explodir a qualquer momento. O catalisador da crise inevitável é Helen, a empregada ilegal da Guatemala, por quem Dr. Tuttle tem uma paixão reprimida, assim como Blackie, um policial de descendência indígena Cree, com um passado sombrio.
Dramaturgia Arthur Giron
Direção Peter Bennett
Elenco Dan Domingues, John Fitzgibbon, Guenia Lemos & Liz Zazzi
Direção de Produção Rose Riccardi
Assistência de Produção Sandra Cummings
Iluminação Jill Nagle
Figurino Patricia E. Doherty
Cenário Harry Feiner
Adereços Jessica Parks
Sonoplastia Merek Royce Press
Muisica Original Merek Royce Press
Diretor Técnico Quinn K. Stone
Acessor de Imprensa Richard Hillman
Diretor Artístico SuzAnne Barabas
Diretor Administrativo Gabor Barabas
Realização NJ Repertory Company
LOVE & MURDER estreou no Lumia Theatre, em Long Branch, 2007.
Rogues’ Gallery of Oddballs, a Force to Contend With
Naomi Siegel

Is it possible to enjoy the four outrageous characters at the center of Arthur Giron’s “Love and Murder” without finding the play worthwhile? That was the question I struggled to answer at the end of Mr. Giron’s issue-stuffed, plot-heavy “serio-comic murder mystery,” onstage at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch. The play is hard to take seriously, as the author demands; perhaps that’s the problem.

In rambling notes published in the program, Mr. Giron, who was born in New York of Guatemalan parents, describes some of his inspiration for the play: the Guatemalan cleaning woman he knew who was cheated out of her wages; the upstate New York town where men joined fraternal organizations but women were discouraged from meeting for coffee, and where the only beauty shop was in a brothel serving the nearby military base. These concerns crowd and confuse this ribald, sexually explicit romp (there are several instances of full frontal nudity) but don’t lend much shape or meaning to the exercise.

None of this, however, stops Mr. Giron’s rogues’ gallery of oddballs, performed to manic perfection by a superb cast under Peter Bennett’s direction, from engaging and entertaining the audience. Liz Zazzi, her blond hair piled on her head, her silk peignoir opening seductively at the knees, is divinely tacky as Tex, a flamboyant, sex-starved cabaret singer with a lifelong goal of cutting a record. Tex is married to Dr. Tuttle, the obsessive town doctor and alderman, who may or may not be a murderer and a fraud, and whose passion for Tex is unrequited. As unctuously played by John FitzGibbon, he is one creepy dude.

Thomas (Blackie) Swamp Cree, a young Mohawk Indian law enforcement officer willing to do whatever it takes (including stripping) to land on the cover of Newsweek, is the province of Dan Domingues, a comically gifted young actor with eyes that never stop talking. Blackie would seem to be the lover of Tex and her maid, Helen, a former exchange student from Guatemala whose current illegal status leaves her open to exploitation and blackmail. As played by the exquisite Guenia Lemos, Helen is nevertheless a force to contend with. A mysterious presence — her fiancé was the victim of a political killing in her native country — Helen is like a poised alley cat waiting to pounce.

To try to describe the ultimate unraveling of “Love and Murder” would prove more tedious than enlightening. Suffice it to say, sexual liaisons change at a moment’s notice (including a suggestion of a lesbian attraction on Tex’s part); a woman becomes pregnant (or does she?); a murder is committed (we’re not sure by whom); and a suicide-by-hanging leaves lovers free to follow their destiny, whatever that may be.

Worth spending two hours watching? Not unless prurient tastes dictate your choice of entertainment — or if you simply want to catch four fine actors doing what they do best

"Love and Murder" make a passionate pair at New Jersey Repertory
Tom Chesek

The funniest thing about "Love and Murder," the play by Arthur Giron currently in its world-premiere engagement at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, isn't its outlandish, overripe, naughty/nasty take on human nature. It's how much this mutant melodrama appears to have been ripped screaming from the author's own background.

The esteemed author and professor is able to spin even the most leaden of life experiences into dramatic gold. With "Love and Murder," Giron riffs upon his 1960s gig as a social worker in a way-upstate New York village — a place that, thanks to its proximity to an Indian reservation, an army base and the Canada border, was pretty much an inbred little island unto itself.

Inspired by that unnamed real-world hamlet, Giron's fictional Indian River is a cold and isolated place where TV signals don't penetrate, many of the locals sport a sixth finger and folks tend not to die (since the ground is usually too frozen to bury them). Held up by the federal government as an example of good old American values, it's the kind of town where the men join fraternal lodges and the women, discouraged by the town fathers from congregating, are forced to get their hair done at the local brothel. As more than one character declares, it's a place "where men were born to kill, and women were born to be killed by them."

It's also a "sister city" to a village in Guatemala, from which a young lady named Helen (Brazilian-born actress Guenia Lemos in her NJ Rep debut) comes to live as an exchange student at the home of upstanding citizen Dr. Tuttle (John FitzGibbon) and his wife, Tex (Liz Zazzi) — staying on as a maid (and virtual slave) to Mrs. Tuttle, an aspiring singer whose showbiz dreams hinge upon a deadly revue called "Songs of All Nations." She's soon joined as a resident guest in the household by "Blackie" Swamp Cree (Dan Domingues), an alarmingly ambitious young cop of Mohawk ancestry who's hired as a local officer by the village elder Doc — and whose presence as agent provocateur and all-around "naked savage" sends the Tuttle teapot to boiling.

One look at Harry Feiner's stylized set design should tell you that we're not on solid American soil here — reducing the Tuttle home to sheets of washed-out colors and plush-pile carpeted speedbumps, it suggests a house built from the fuzzy details of half-recalled dreams; a borderland dimension that seems strangely appropriate to this place beyond laws, where the characters behave as though they've had pencils pushed into the parts of their brains that govern inhibitions.

Even so, very little is as it first appears in Indian River. It quickly becomes evident that the oily Doc Tuttle is not only not a real doctor, but most likely not even a real Tuttle. Blackie has apparently been impersonating an officer, and Tex's labored impersonation of a faithful wife is in its death throes. As for the innocent, exploited, virtuous Helen, you've got to believe Tex when she describes the guest worker as "an unreal being" from a time "before rules was invented."

FitzGibbon is the perfect choice to embody the quack doctor.

Working once again with "The Best Man" director Peter Bennett, Domingues takes a bold turn that leaves him standing revealed — particularly in a humiliatingly impromptu physical exam by the sadistic Doc. Not to be put out of a job by Blackie and his birthday suit, costumer Patricia Doherty turns in some of her finest work, including Helen's sexy spin on a Scout uniform — and a hilarious Doc Tuttle lodge get-up that looks to have been pre-owned by Oliver Hardy.

Zazzi is an agile pro who does her bewigged and Dollywooded best in a generally shrill and unsympathetic part — and Lemos makes Helen's transition from semi-invisible servant to savvy seductress a smooth and engaging journey (let's see more of her).

Enjoy "Love and Murder" for what it is: an entertaining sideshow, acted with guts and gusto and starring a bunch of human oddities who, to paraphrase Blackie, recognize no borders.

Complex "Love and Murder" at New Jersey Rep
Bob Rendell

There is currently deception afoot at every turn at the New Jersey Rep. It begins well before the curtain rises. It starts with the world premiere play's pulp title Love and Murder and the theatre's promotional description of it, to wit: "When two men vie for the same women, there's more duplicity than meets the eye as lives hang in the balance in this serio-comic murder mystery set in an upstate New York bordertown." Surely, a light, fun tricky mystery awaits us. Or so we have been led to believe.

All the plot elements for such a mystery are in place here, and we are nicely misdirected from a tricky and clever surprise ending. However, author Arthur Giron and his accomplices in this endeavor have something more unconventional in mind. There are clues to this in the opening monologue delivered by Native American Deputy Sheriff Thomas Swamp Cree (who is most often addressed to as "Blackie"). The first scene following the monologue reveals an odd set for the home of a rich, small town power broker and his wife. It is designed as a series of overlapping hangings of large, grey, I would think Indian rugs or blankets. You, my sharp readers, would probably by this point have discerned that something thematically complex has been set in motion. However, although I found this design very unsettling, I must admit that it took me a while longer to realize that Love and Murder is a mythological, anthropological fable set in a fantasyland existing outside of time and space.

The stated location is Jefferson County in the far northwest corner of New York. The time is 1967. For the past four or five years, middle-aged Dr. Tuttle, who previously had not had any romantic relationships, has been married to former singer Tex, a fading, over the hill, flashy, bleached blonde. Tex only married the stolid Tuttle for the shelter of his money. Their maid Helen, a Mayan from Guatemala, had been an exchange student, but has remained illegally in New York. Blackie makes love to Tex ("my tribe doesn't recognize borders"). When Tuttle discovers that Tex has been telling Helen that she saves her salary for her in a bank account, but has actually been spending it frivolously on herself, Tuttle becomes angry at Tex for her mistreatment of Helen. Tex responds by informing Tuttle that she truly despises him. Helen seduces Tuttle, who finds succor in the arms. She becomes pregnant. Tuttle now loves Helen, and is determined to protect her and their unborn child. Absurdist humor abounds in the form of odd occurrences. One example is when the intoxicated Tuttle dresses in a fancy dress uniform and flagellates himself for his assignation with Helen.

Most crucially, we are not in any real time or place. We are in a time warp which has preserved the natural laws which existed before European presence in the Americas. Author Arthur Giron posits a primal side of nature which will always seek that the land be restored to its native population. All of this is quite stimulating and engages the intellect. It also inherently reduces the taut suspense and easy pleasure for which conventional light mysteries strive.

The ominous mood created by director Peter Bennett employs sound and lighting most effectively. Liz Zazzi (Tex) daringly throws caution to the wind to present us with a ripley entertaining, over the top floozy. John FitzGibbon convincingly details Tuttle's transition from pompous bully to loving incipient father and ...." Well, therein lies the tale, and we wouldn't want to give it away.

Guenia Lemos strongly projects Helen's anger and sincerity. Whether or not Helen deserves our belief, Lemos appropriately makes certain that she gets it. Dan Domingues (Blackie) efficiently conveys the smooth veneer of Blackie.

The complex mixture of elements does not always blend together smoothly. Still, in all, Love and Murder is an intriguing blend of absurdist humor, mystery and anthropologic philosophy which will hold your interest throughout.

"Love & Murder" add up to mayhem
Peter Filichia

The title is boring. The play is not.

That doesn't mean "Love and Murder" is ultimately successful. Arthur Giron's drama, now having its world premiere at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, starts off with a flourish, with some crackling dialogue and one arresting character.

Then it loses its way and finishes with a surprise ending that simply isn't surprising enough.

Giron creates his own melting pot of Americans. There's Native American Thomas "Blackie" Swamp Cree -- a police officer -- and Helen, an illegal immigrant from South America, hired as a maid by North Americans Dr. Tuttle and his wife, Tex.

These people from three different cultures make no effort to understand each other -- and put the emphasis on murder rather than love.

Swamp Cree's opening monologue includes the line, "Men were born to kill, and women to be killed by them." Considering that the cast offers two men and two women, Giron has pretty much revealed that at least one of the guys will be the perpetrator, and one of the women the victim.

There's quite a bit of entertainment from Tex. To say she's trailer trash would actually be elevating her to that station. Here's a woman who freely admits that she goes to a brothel to get her hair done. (That blond monstrosity atop her head indicates she does.)

Tex isn't in a happy marriage, though Tuttle certainly gives enough jewelry to his Southern non-belle. She shows her gratitude as she recites her mealtime grace, thanking the Lord for his gifts -- of jewelry, make-up and appliances.

However, Tex isn't grateful enough to grant her husband sexual favors, possibly because she knows he steals those gifts from his dying patients. Tex turns her attentions to the well-built Swamp Cree; she goes to the door singing "Indian Love Call." Soon comes an intense affair. "I think we just invented a new sin," she says breathlessly.

All these shenanigans give everyone a chance to be seen in underwear, except for Swamp Cree. Giron establishes that he wears none, which means Dan Domingues is fully nude, once in each act.

With a wild 'n' crazy script like this, a director is best advised to stage it simply and quickly, and let it speak for itself. That's what Peter Bennett does.

Domingues has an Elvis-like sneer that well fits Swamp Cree, and John FitzGibbon is perfectly toady as Tuttle. That's the best they can give to underwritten roles that are less compelling than those of the women.

Guenia Lemos gives Helen the bored nasal voice of someone who has no joy in her life. She expertly shows just enough contempt for her employers for them not to notice.

As Tex, Liz Zazzi is a tiger on a hot tin roof. Her extraordinary Southern accent never flags, and she doesn't stoop to parody. There's steely judgment in her voice when she tells Helen, "We're very strict on morality clauses to get into this country." Yes, but as Tex proves, if you happen to be born here, you get a free pass.

"Love and Murder" proves shocking and compelling
MIlt Bersten

"Love and Murder," the new play by Arthur Giron that is the current offering at the New Jersey Repertory Theater in Long Branch lives up to its title fully. As played by a cast of four -- two male and two female -- one doesn't know who to despise more; or who to be amazed by, even more.

The play takes place at a time 40 years ago, in a small New York hamlet close to the Canadian border. Three of the characters inhabit the house which is the set. They are Dr. Tuttle (John Fitzgibbon), the highly respected elderly town doctor; his flamboyant and sexy wife "Tex" (marvelously depicted by Liz Zazzi, a NJ Rep veteran); and Helen (Guenia Lemos), a demure and lissome foreign exchnage student from Guatemala, who as a now-illegal alien has managed to stay in the U.S. by working for Tex and the doctor as an indentured servant.

Introducing himself into this unstable triangle is "Blackie" Cree (Dan Domingues), a sinewy young Mokawk Indian who has grown from out of the reservation he grew up in to be a highly active local policeman, but filled with early memories of privation and discrimination. Of course, it doesn't take long for Blackie to make it with Tex -- but that is before he catches a glimpse of Helen. And in between, there is a long moment or more in which, under pretense of examination by the doctor, Blackie is made to remain completely nude -- which adds considerably to the play's shock value. (According to a posted sign, no one under the age of 18 is permitted to attend).

Interspersed within the interplay of unfettered desires and cunning schemes, the author brings out several issues of topical interest, such as illegal immigration, race prejudice, et. al. And as far as the murder in the title is concerned, he has also managed to keep that a secret until almost the very end.

This exciting new drama, excellently directed by Peter Bennett, and a production not to be missed if only for its potential to shock, but in addition to great performances by four seasoned veterans, can be seen through Sunday, May 6, at the Lumia Theater, 179 Broadway, Long Branch.

"Love & Murder"
Roberts L. Daniels

The valiant New Jersey Repertory Theater, always in search of new plays, often gets lucky, but just as often comes up with such an opaque theatrical puzzler as "Love and Murder," a new play by Arthur Giron. The only saving grace in this hopeless whodunit is a bravely adept cast offering a quartet of cartoon studies that manage to make the two hours somewhat palatable.

Guatemalan servant girl Helen (Guenia Lemos) is a seductively lean illegal alien who attends to the demanding needs of Tex (Liz Zazzi), a blowsy El Paso chanteuse who's married to a wealthy if dubious doctor (John FitzGibbon). Pivotal troublemaker is state trooper Blackie (Dan Domingues), a bloodthirsty Cree Indian.

In one of the most tasteless sequences in recent theatrical history, the audience is held captive to witness the full-frontal nudity of the police officer being closely examined by the lecherous, doubting physician, who studies his patient through a magnifying glass, poking and prodding as if he were purchasing a horse. However, Domingues' cop-with-the-heart-of-a-criminal is a cunning, cool and convincing conspirator.

The wide-eyed Zazzi personifies the kind of dumb blonde once the property of Goldie Hawn or, many years ago, the wisecracking Iris Adrian. Unfortunately, she ends up buried in the pine mulch, and her presence is sorely missed. Lemos offers a stealthy account of a lethal hot-blooded viper with a hidden agenda. The perverted doc with sex on the brain is acted with mousey comic abandon by FitzGibbon.

Director Peter Bennett has given the play and his actors a thrust that transcends the murky, muddled plot twists. Fortunately, the gamely adventurous actors manage to upstage a dismal stucco set design furnished with a chaise longue and an old windup gramophone.

"Love & Murder"
Gary Wein

Arthur Giron's "Love and Murder" starts off with one of the most captivating openings I've ever seen. Dan Domingues as Blackie reveals that a murder has been committed in Upstage New York and the description and language used grabs your attention immediately. The play never relinguishes its grip on you until long after the play is finished. It's a wonderfully clever "who done it?" with enough twists and turns that you'll be scratching your head as to who the murderer truly is and how it played out.

"Love and Murder" is the latest world premiere at New Jersey Repertory Company. The play features a wonderful cast including Domingues, John FitzGibbon, Guenia Lemos, and Liz Tazzi.

"If you prayed more you wouldn't be so ugly," says Tex (Liz Zazzi). "Men do not like women who are athiests."

Tex (a small time singer who thinks of herself as a minor star) gives that advice to her maid (Helen), an illegal immigrant who has been working for her for the last few years without pay. Tex is constantly worried about her leaving, so she hides mail sent to her.

We are soon introduced to Thomas "Blackie" Swamp Cree, an Indian who was formerly a police officer. He brags about coming from a town where he put 600 kids behind bars under false pretenses, a move that brought him national attention. He's a "cop without a conscience."

Blackie is hoping to be hired as a cop in town and tried to impress Tex's husband (Dr. Tuttle) who is one of the people involved in the town council. Dr. Tuttle taunts Blackie with racist slurs and tries to humilate him by putting him through a full physical with both ladies present in the room. As Blackie stands there naked, Dr. Tuttle points a magnifying glass in front of Blackie's privates and "examines" him. He then dismisses Blackie as unfit and forces him to leave the house without his clothes since he is no longer employed as an officer and shouldn't be wearing the uniform.

Blackmail provides the Indian with the opening for the job and he joins the local police force. Meanwhile, a letter providing news that Helen's father had passed away changes things dramatically within the household. Dr. Tuttle becomes aware of how much his wife had kept secrets from him and kept Helen from the things she was owed.

"You are a thief and a liar, my dear," said Dr. Tuttle as his world unravels around him.

"You think any woman in their right mind could ever love you," replied Tex.

Suddenly everything becomes clear to the doctor. "And I thought we had a perfect life," he says quietly. "I wish I believed in divorce, but I don't."

The house becomes even more complicated when Helen reveals that the real reason she has stayed all these years was to serve the doctor - the man she loves.

"I have helped bring down governments, I have helped kill presidents... A little scandal in Indian River is nothing to me," the maid says.

And scandal there is. Blood, murder, cover-ups and investigations soon follow. The house is full of secrets and questions about what is love and what does it mean to be a man; what is religion and what is true salvation? Playwright Arthur Giron has penned a very exciting and entertaining play that should go on from here to a healthy future on additional stages.

Dan Domingues shows he is as talented as he is daring; Guenia Lemos has a commanding presence on the stage; John FitzGibbon is wonderful as the meak doctor; and Liz Zazzi rounds out an excellent cast as the singer who never made it to the big time.

This play is highly recommended!

"Love & Murder"
Frank J. Avella

"Love and Murder," playing at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, New Jersey, is a confused potpourri of themes that doesn’t really gel as a play but does feature a quartet of delectably despicable characters played by a quartet of fine and mesmerizing actors.

The convoluted plot involves four misfits who are locked in a battle of greed and sexual intrigue.

The author, Arthur Giron, seems to touch on fascinating issues but then stops short of really probing the underbelly of American avarice, boredom and racism. He toys with sexual themes as well but seems afraid to delve deep enough. So instead of fixing on one or two of his very interesting ideas, he spreads too many too thinly and the director (Peter Bennett) and cast are left to do all the work. Lucky for us they’re up for the challenge.

Bennett is to be commended for keeping a swift pace and making things far more riveting than they should be. Liz Zazzi and John FitzGibbon give solid performances as two very vile townies who deserve one another. Dan Domingues plays an Indian law enforcement officer with manic glee and happens to look damn good naked, too. But it’s Guenia Lemos who truly manages to deliver the most transcendent turn as a Guatemalan maid who has a lot more going on in her pretty head than she lets on. Her dead-on comic timing alone is worth a visit to Love and Murder.

NJ Rep prides itself on showcasing new authors and plays and should be applauded for doing what few NJ theatres are willing to do, take chances on new writers. Please get yourself down to Long Branch (the beach is VERY close to the theatre!!!) and support this fantastic group!