|Image courtesy Torch Theatre|
|John Middleton and Mo Perry in Prints.|
John Middleton mixes reality with noir-based flights of fancy in Prints, an intriguing new work that despite some rough spots, shows plenty of promise.
The play uses the real-life kidnapping of William Hamm (of the famous locally based brewery) by Midwestern gangsters in 1933. From there, Middleton spins a story about greed, hard-drinking newspaper reporters (that may be a redundancy), and 1930s monster movies into a fast-paced mystery.
Middleton leads the company as Kash, a Minneapolis-based crime reporter who goes after the case after hearing the pleas of Hamm's daughter, Pearl (Summer Hagen). Joined by society-columnist-with-a-crime-beat-bent Ginny (Mo Perry), Kash heads out on the trail of the missing Hamm (Ari Hoptman, who spends most of the show with a bag over his head).
Concurrent with this, we spend time at Creepy Karpis's hideout. There, the gangster (an absolutely menacing Zach Curtis) bides his time waiting for the ransom, working with easy-going accomplice Fred (Sam Landman) and Fred's oft-confused mother (Karen Wiese-Thompson). Hagen shows up again here, playing Karpis's girl.
Who is actually behind the kidnapping isn't tough to pick out, but there are some fun moments along the way, especially when the chief of police (Landman), Hamm's wife (Weise-Thompson), and a way-too-earnest G-man (Casey Hoekstra) enter the game.
The script is still a bit rough around the edges, with motivations and plot points unclear and out of focus. Those issues are smoothed over by the work of the company and the fun-filled staging. The show, directed by the always strong Craig Johnson, features fake newsreels, monster-movie excerpts, and plenty of quick-witted transitions. Michael Hoover's set has a nice noir vibe to it, along with a giant Hamm beer label in the middle to encourage the audience to get a drink once the show is over.
IF YOU GO:
Through March 8
711 W. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 952.929.9097 or visit online.
711 W. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN