Review: The Confessions of Dorian Gray 2.3: Murder on 81st Street

Murder on 81st Street coverDorian and his friend Dorothy Parker need to convince a typically cynical New York cop that a monster really was capable of murder…

David Llewellyn’s very enjoyable half hour is basically a two-hander for Alexander Vlahos and Sarah Douglas (with occasional interjections from others), as they recount their involvement in the death of a prominent not-so-nice New York socialite. It’s all linked to a mysterious chest and an old Rabbi – sufficient clues to hint at what the monster is that Dorothy Parker keeps wanting to talk about…

Both actors seem to be clearly enjoying themselves, and Llewellyn’s script gives them plenty of opportunities to try to top each other. The temptation when using a genuine historical figure like Parker is simply to play the ‘cliché’ version of her – particularly someone as well known for her barbed comments – but Douglas gives us a much more rounded figure, whose snarks are part of her personality (a reference to Katharine Hepburn doesn’t simply repeat the famous line from 1934, but gives it a little twist).

The background to the play is genuine as well: the “Jew Deal” was indeed attacked by Julius Kuhn, the German American Bund leader at a meeting at Madison Square Garden in February 1939 . However it deviates from history in terms of the leader’s fate (perhaps not surprisingly, although Kuhn did get his comeuppance in a rather different way).

Verdict: A little gem; a repeat meeting for “Dodo” and Dorothy should be scheduled immediately. 8/10

Paul Simpson  

Click here to order Murder on 81st Street from Big Finish

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