Review: Killer Blues at Shadowbox Live

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Shadowbox Live promised expanded programming after opening its larger space in the Brewery District, and if the shows in the new venue are all as strong as “Killer Blues,” the troupe should have no trouble attracting bigger audiences.

A Stage 2 production, the show shares a format that’s familiar to most Shadowbox regulars — exciting musical numbers on one stage interspersed between skits on the other — with more of a high-end twist.

The first act is largely dominated by “Killer Blues,” a one-act play by Roy Berkowitz. A sad psychoanalyst (Tom Cardinal) ends up sharing a subway stop with Mae Bertha (Julie Klein). Playing the erratic homeless woman, Klein is particularly strong as she alternates between moments of honest clarity and her fanatical attempts to banish evil M&Ms.

Shorter poems and monologues fill the second act with varied results, and the two biggest successes are two hilarious monologues by playwright Martha King De Silva.

The first features a slacker college freshman (Nikki Fagin) attempting to raise the grade on an English paper, while the second has an angry woman (Mary Randle) attempting to justify her request to move away from an annoying co-worker.

The music stage is just as successful, featuring a handful of blues-influenced songs. Stephanie Shull is extraordinary on Etta James’s “At Last,” Fagin sultrily sings Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Me Like a Man” and Jennifer Hahn brings a sexy take to Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me.”

A throwback to the old 2Co’s Cabaret days, “Killer Blues” is a great showcase for all the potential that comes with Shadowbox’s new location.

Shadowbox Live

Wednesday evenings through Nov. 9

(No performance on Oct. 5)

503 S. Front St., Brewery District