Orange Murder Suit
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
Orange Murder Suit, by Rob Matsushita, tells a smart, taut story about motherhood, abuse, and revenge. As directed by Rick Vorndran and acted by a terrific ensemble, it's gripping theatre; definitely a must-see at this first FRIGID New York festival.
March 10, 2007
It begins in a bar—a nice one—where Nina is meeting her lawyer, Lynn, for drinks to celebrate the conclusion of her trial. We quickly learn that Nina murdered someone, and that the person she murdered was the killer of her young daughter. Lynn intuits that Nina held back some information in her conversations with her attorneys, and she's here to try to learn what that is. She puts her cards on the table forthrightly, disarming Nina first with a game that she calls simply "The Game" that's designed to make everybody—the one asking the questions and the one answering them—comfortable with the truth. Later, she tells Nina a harsh story of her own brush with murder, at least in part to get Nina to open up.
And open up she does: the second half of Orange Murder Suit is a flashback to the event that brought Nina to her current circumstance. It's a harrowing confrontation with her daughter's murderer, a tough and troubled young woman named Joy whose life has been full of anything but that.
To give more away would be a disservice to this finely-crafted one-act play. It's a terrifically satisfying piece, featuring splendid plotting and dialogue by the talented Matsushita, and expert direction by Vorndran. A highlight is a knockout fight sequence choreographed by Robert Brown. Orange Murder Suit offers excellent opportunities to its three actors, who all deliver outstanding performances: Allison Sell captures the complex conflicted feelings of the wronged mother Nina; Jennifer Gill is convincingly empathetic yet aloof as the curious lawyer Lynn; and Theresa Unfried is spellbinding as the sadly damaged Joy. Remarkably, the whole show lasts just 45 minutes; an enormous amount gets accomplished by these skilled hands in that quick span of time.