“Death By Chocolate,” by Craig Sudaro, is a pure comedy, beginning with the down-but-not-out detective, “Nick Noir” (played by Rick Loos), working from an “office” which is a desk parked in an alley behind a friend’s restaurant. Nick is about ready to pack the detective gig in, over the objections of his fiercely loyal secretary, Selma (Ashlee Hosbach), when the call comes in to take over investigating the “Death By Chocolate” murder, a case that has the police baffled.
The remainder of the play takes place at the “Precious Perks Coffee Shop,” the scene of the crime. Run by two sisters who had been separated at birth and recently reunited, “Coco” and “Bonbon Purvis” (Vicky Heckman and Christi Kavanaugh), “Death By Chocolate” is the café’s most popular drink, now notorious for having been the means for delivering an exotic poison to a customer.
When another one of the café’s habitués drops dead of the same cause, and all the police are tied up at a major event, Nick sees his chance and doggedly pursues the investigation, aided by Selma in a variety of disguises.
Players Lily Sullivan, Scott Dyer, Scott Fudali, Cory Klein, Eileen Dyer, and Beth Kern fill out the cast of more-or-less suspicious characters.
Characterizations were generally solid for broad comedy, with Mr. Loos doing a lot of the work as the embattled detective, and Ms. Hosbach has some of the funniest bits as the woman who works in miserable conditions for no money, because she loves romance-impaired Nick.
Although there was a lot to like in this show, I came away ultimately unsatisfied, due, I think to the timing. In a “noir detective” script the dialog has to “crackle.” There weren’t any dead spots or missed lines that I noticed, but the energy was just not quite there.
All in all, an enjoyable afternoon at the theatre, but I wanted a bit more.
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