La MaMa e.t.c. is presenting the world premiere of Robert Montgomery's A Case of Murder, which is billed as "a singing detective story." A musical murder mystery inspired by Crime and Punishment, the play transplants Dostoyevsky's timeless story to modern-day New York City, to distracting effect. In the process, Montgomery also offers up little more than forgettable music, stock characters, and a story line that is more limp than literary. A Case of Murder follows the plot of the novel, a meaty book ripe for interpretation. After committing a horrific double murder, a young man lurks in limbo, dreading punishment yet yearning for redemption. This "musical" sidesteps any psychological complexities in favor of stereotypical TV-cop-show protocol. Told from the point of view of the distant, hardboiled (and sometimes drunk) Detective Porfiry (Brian McCormick), the show plays like a lost episode of the short-lived TV series Cop Rock.
Truth be told, this show is all over the map. Everything about it is abrupt. It begins abruptly with each of the eight characters taking to the stage and bursting into song with nary an introduction as to who they are. The murders, so integral they reverberate throughout the story, creating the impetus for everything that happens, are never seen by the audience. The victims are mentioned briefly and are nearly incidental. It's all tell and no show. One character abruptly moves to L.A. because that's what she's always wanted. Other characters abruptly fall in love