“Thrill me” is not a bad translation of Jean Cocteau’s standing demand of art: “Etionnez-moi.” Whether composer and playwright Stephen Dolginoff had Cocteau in mind when he created his musical version of 1924’s contender for crime of the century, he has undoubtedly produced a thrilling piece of work. Bailiwick premieres this look at the local anti-heroes with a satisfying, if minimal, staging, driven by the coruscating tension between charismatically nihilistic Richard Loeb (Eric Martin) and his starry-eyed beau Nathan Leopold (Scott Gryder). Both actors are in fine voice and ably convey the carousel of giddy excitement and grim anxiety that the duo rides. One might have moral qualms about the liberties taken by Doginoff’s script. The suggestion that Leopold only reluctantly went along with Loeb’s grisly thrill-killing scheme, intoxicated by his adoration, borders on romanticizing a character who appears, according to the factual record, as bloodthirsty as his pal. Eighty years after the fact, though, the dramatic license may be forgivable, particularly when the results are as rewarding as these. Neither would-be ubermensch comes off looking terribly appealing, and the last-minute twist that Dolginoff has concocted is as satisfying as any Hollywood thriller. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.