KRiEp - a Grusical in Seven Deadly Scenes
nytheatre.com review by Ethan Angelica
August 18, 2012
What does the descriptor “Grusical” call to mind? One might expect a piece of musical theater filled with blood, guts and gore, a terrifying story of death and murder, a tale somewhat akin to the disturbing Sweeney Todd or Jekyll and Hyde. Or, perhaps, something closer to “horror musical theater” that tends towards the silly (Silence! The Musical or Evil Dead, anyone?) As a fan of both the horror and musical theatre genres, I was eager to see a serial killer musical that would indeed leave me “troubled” and “disturbed,” while also “whistling a tune,” as the marketing materials imply. However, I am sad to report that KRiEp: A GRUSICAL IN SEVEN DEADLY SCENES does not deliver on its promise. Even with solid performances from many of its players, the winding, confused story, inconsistent direction, and songs that are rarely hummable or integral makes KRiEp a rough evening of theater.
KRiEp (pronounced “creep”) is the fictional tale of a serial killer named Jeremiah Kriep, told via three narrators, all playing the same man at different ages. We watch as he evades detective and forensic scientists, and struggles with the reasons for his psychosis. The tale bounces back and forth as the audience learns why Kriep became a killer and follow his murderous quest, alongside the police who are trying to stop him. We meet his family, see him interact with his victims and discover a budding romance among those who seek him. The stories being told aren’t terribly clear; they are muddied by the multiple narrators and songs that do little to advance the plot.
Sadly, the execution of this difficult musical does little to elevate it. Director Sam Belich (who is also responsible for book, lyrics and music, along with John Hammel) clutters the stage with activity, and never establishes consistency in tone or style. Kendra Slack’s choreography is often fitting and reminiscent of Fosse’s work – and the disturbing corpse ballet deserves special mention – but struggles to find a solid vocabulary. The cast is mostly very good, with particularly notable performances delivered by the versatile Christopher Tefft, the sweet singing John Hollingsworth and the effervescent Tiger Brown. Joseph Rodriguez and Melissa Gonzalez are a solid duo as the romantically entangled Det. Caccia and Dr. Sirene, and Warren Douglas’s rap in the first act is great fun to watch. Michael Megliola’s bold lighting design is wonderful, and provides much needed focus throughout.
The program claims that KRiEp examines our society’s mutually destructive fascination with serial killers through the musical theater idiom. That is a musical I’d like to see. However, what is currently onstage at FringeNYC never finds this footing. With a more strongly defined storyline, and an overarching thematic direction, the concepts and fragments of storytelling behind KRiEp could have a fruitful and fascinating life.