With its snappy dialogue and film noir milieu—trench coats, crime scenes and stolen microfilm—Michael Hollinger’s “Red Herring” transforms all the usual clichés into comic fodder. It’s not a bad idea. It would be a stronger one if Hollinger had a better fix on things. A 1952-set murder mystery, the play centers on three couples whose lives become intertwined when a dead body turns up at the harbor. The stylish but somewhat pointless production at Northlight Theatre, directed by Jessica Thebus (who brought a similar sensibility last year to About Face Theatre’s Sapphic-noir comedy, “Pulp”) blips along with a plucky, entertaining rhythm, but the proceedings feel scattershot. Essentially, the play is an echo chamber of a genre comedy, where the laughs and gaffes ricochet around without ever hitting a target. That being said, the production features some very canny performances: Tracy Michelle Arnold as a police detective brings to mind a smoky-voiced Patricia O’Neal, circa “A Face in the Crowd,” and Lesley Bevan as the racy-innocent spawn of red-baiter Joseph McCarthy. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.