nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 3, 2012
Doubles Crossed, a new comic noir mystery by Jason S. Grossman, delivers on all counts. With its snappy dialogue and panoply of characters drawn from archetypal gangster movies of the '30s and '40s, it pays affectionate tribute to the noir formula while staying just this side of parody. More impressively, its carefully drawn, super-complicated plot qualifies as a splendidly satisfying thriller, with all of the loose ends neatly tied up by the end of the evening while providing opportunity for a (promised) sequel.
Before I go any further, let me note that Doubles Crossed is published on Indie Theater Now, nytheatre.com's sister website. (Check out the excerpt here to get a sample of Grossman's style.)
The story centers on a somewhat improbable set of identical twins. Freddie Tower is a mid-level henchman in the Dead Street Mob, an organized crime syndicate led by the enigmatically named BMC, Freddie's dad's one-time friend and rival. Freddie's brother, Irving, has just been named head of the FBI. When Irving comes to town—ostensibly on vacation—it's not long before complications ensue.
Added to the mix are a pair of bumbling cops, Ramsey and Flapjack, and an ambitious newspaper reporter, Jebsie Overcoat. Ramsey is in love with the police chief's daughter Gina, who auditions for a role in a movie being produced by BMC. Meanwhile, a woman of mystery named Fedora Faith enlists Ramsey to do a side job of a personal nature.
Grossman skillfully juggles all these elements, holding our interest unfailingly and coming up with a resolution that doesn't disappoint.
Amber Gallery directs the large cast on a spare but effective set by Giovanni Villari; good use is made of projections that help establish location. Costumes by Catherine Siracusa and Sidney Levitt are fine and go a long way to define the characters—I particularly enjoyed the coordinated ties worn by Ramsey and Flapjack and the decoratively patterned shirts favored by Lougy, BMC's second-in-command.
Gregory Cohan takes the dual roles of Freddie and Irving and makes them individuals. Ryan Stadler is excellent as Ramsey, and his sonorous baritone (which reminded me of James Naughton's) feels just right for Grossman's rapid-fire patter. Others in the company who make strong impressions include Jim Heaphy as Lougy, Tori Watson as Gina, and Cindy Keiter as Sally, the police station's cookie lady.
Like Grossman's earlier Love Me, Doubles Crossed works beautifully on stage but also feels like it would make a hit film as well. And then there's that sequel that Grossman mentioned in our podcast...I'll be on the lookout for that.