No Drama Theatre's latest production is a comedy called Kill Me, Deadly, a parody of film noir gangster movies such as the 1955 film which presumably inspired the play's name, Kiss Me Deadly. This is the first Irish production of the play. The story follows private detective Charlie Nickels, played by Keith Cooper, whose investigations on behalf of a wealthy client lead him through Los Angeles' bars and seedy backalleys, in pursuit of truth, stolen goods, and a blonde femme fatale.
Although No Drama Theatre is an amateur group they have a track record of successful and entertaining productions. This time though the stagecraft was amateur in the pejorative sense - from problems with props to curtains that didn't operate properly, and most of all mismatches between lighting and the on-stage action. It's easy to take the backstage ninjas for granted, and I admit that I rarely comment on a job well done, but sadly their work is most evident when it goes wrong.
The play was saved by the actors. No Drama is primarily an improv group and perhaps this helped them cope well with surprises. I've seen professional actors horribly ignore errant props, but the actors in this production struck just the right balance between getting on with the script and responding to the unexpected. Keith Cooper's physical acknowledgement of a door not opening properly turned it into part of the comedy, something the audience could laugh at without mocking the production. Sarah Moloney, playing Mona Livingston, coped equally well when a match wouldn't light. And leaving aside the stagecraft, there's some great material to work with in the script; wonderfully clichéd noir dialogue and monologue.
Maybe the best thing I can say about this play is that it left me wanting to watch film noir. It's not a style I've seen much of - or have much cared for - but this parody makes it look interesting. Funny and enjoyable. Go see it, baby.
Kill Me Deadly runs in the Sean O'Casey Community Centre theatre until Saturday 8th December 2012. Tickets cost €12 (€10 concession) and can be booked here. The play starts at 8 pm and runs for a little over 2 hours 30 minutes including the interval.
PS It looks like there'll be a film based on the play released next year - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2022441/.