Curtains: Accomplice at Theatre Artists Studio in PV

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Last week, we talked about Curtains (the musical mystery) here in Curtains (the online theater review column at PHXmusic.com). In another of those crazy coincidences, this week's review is of another thriller (but without songs) by one of Curtains' (the play's) several authors, Rupert Holmes, who was, for decades, best known for writing Drood (originally titled The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)." Brownie honor. (He writes novels, too, apparently, and, long, long ago, wrote "Timothy," the Buoys' hit about trapped coal miners resorting to cannibalism. Rock and roll!)

This is a man we should all put on our "people real or imaginary, living or dead, with whom we'd like to have lunch" list, because hey, imagine what all must be knocking around in Mr. Holmes' brain at any given moment. Put his talents together with those of the members of Theatre Artists Studio, which is currently presenting his play Accomplice, and you've got a tasty morsel of funny, pointed, richly layered metamystery. I don't particularly like the genre, but any chart-scorching pop artist who's got a pile of Edgars at home to keep his Tonys company will get me out of the house to see what he's up to.

An adorable set, designed by Tom Noga, features a fully stocked wet bar and James Bond and Avengers figurines sprinkled here and there. Marney Austin's costumes start out with a bang -- actress Debra Rich sports one of the most darling bright purple mini-suits (short skirt and a looooooong jacket) I've ever seen (check out a detail in the photo above), and at one point when she's in flagrante delicto up against the yummy purple velvet sofa and we find out what else is purple, it's like what happens to Violet Beauregarde, but in a good way.

Rich is a super-diva-enchantress, flinging Holmes' bons mots and double entendres around like Mardi Gras beads, and the rest of the cast has impeccable timing and attitude to spare, as well. There is suspense. There are twists. There's a bit of sweetly self-conscious self-parody, and that's really all I can say. Because it's a mystery. And a cute, enjoyable production.

Accomplice continues through Sunday, October 18, at Theatre Artists Studio, 4848 East Cactus Road, Suite 406 (check the map). Tickets are $5 to $18; order here or call 602-765-0120.

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