A murder at Crow’s

True Crime, a Castleton Massive production, by Torquil Campbell and Chris Abraham opened at Crow’s Theatre last night.  It’s essentially a one man show featuring Campbell (not quite… composer Julian Brown provides musical backing throughout).  It’s certainly a tour de force by Campbell who is on stage continually for 90 minutes and it’s hard to tell when he’s on script and when he’s improvising.  He plays a raft of characters from himself, to his father and wife, an imprisoned con man, several dogs and a bunch of others.  And he does it very well.  He also sings (and barks).


It’s a work that happens on at least two levels.  Ostensibly Torquil is obsessed with “true crime” TV shows and , in particular, with the case of a German conman, mostly known under his assumed ID of Clark Rockefeller.  He is in prison in California for a particularly grisly murder.  Campbell relates this man’s story and the story of the several visits he has made to him in California in the process of creating a show about him with Arts Council of Ontario funding.  How much of this is actually true?  How much are we bing conned by Campbell as much as others were conned by Rockefeller (if he exists)?


As the piece moves forward it also gets into how much we, the audience, are complicit in the whole process.  Why are we there?  The implication is that we are as unhealthily obsessed with “true crime” and grisly murders as the real or imagined Torquil Campbell.  And that’s really where I started to drift off because I’m about as interested in “true crime” TV as I am in baseball or underwater pole vaulting.  Why then was I there?  Well Crow’s has a great track record of putting on thought provoking theatre so I’ll give most of their shows a shot!  The trouble with asking your audience rhetorical questions is that they can’t answer!  As it was the last 30 minutes or so felt very long and it felt like the shark had been well and truly jumped (perhaps by an underwater pole vaulter?).


So, it’s an intriguing concept and a pretty astonishing performance by Campbell.  It’s also, at times, very funny indeed.  I really wanted to like it more but, ultimately, I wasn’t particularly moved or engaged.


True Crime runs at Crow’s Theatre until May 7th.

Photo credits: Dahlia Katz


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