THRILL ME – THE LEOPOLD AND LOEB STORY
book, music and lyrics by Stephen Dolginoff.
Greenwich Theatre Crooms Hill SE10 8ES To 18 April 2015.
Mon–Sat 8pm Sun 5pm.
TICKETS: 020 8858 7755.
then Tour 8 May-7 June 2015.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
Review: William Russell 9 April.
A fine chilling tale of murder and obsession.
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two young Chicago law students from wealthy families who were convinced they belong to a superior race of men. In 1924 they embarked on a career of crime which resulted in the ultimate – the random murder of a young boy called Bobby Franks.
They were both homosexual, Leopold, apparently the weaker of the two, being in thrall to Loeb, a cold, calculating manipulator. He initiated their crimes, the besotted Leopold doing his bidding, pleading, as he satisfied whatever his beloved demanded, that he “thrill” him. In other words have sex.
Followers of Nietzsche they may have been, but they did not commit the perfect crime. Leopold dropped his glasses at the murder site and since they were of a singular type he was traced. They were defended by the celebrated lawyer Clarence Darrow in what was called the trial of the Century.
Their story formed the basis for Patrick Hamilton’s play Rope, filmed by Alfred Hitchcock, and the film Compulsion with Orson Welles as Darrow.
Stephen Dolginoff starts his account with Leopold facing a parole board in 1958 – Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936. The piece, firmly directed by Guy Retallack, is a two-hander with voices-off providing the members of the board and a radio announcer.
Jo Parsons and Ben Woods are riveting as the murderous lovers, the one clinging and needy, the other ice cold and arrogant. Dolganoff’s score is effective, but not really memorable and does tend to the tedious. This has not, however, prevented the show, first staged in 2003, going on to be performed all over the world.
Dolginoff examines the psychology of the two men, the whole chilling superman world of Nietszsche, and springs a chilling surprise at the end after Leopold is paroled, making us see the relationship in a new perspective. The result is a fascinating, enthralling show in a production which explains just why this piece has lasted so long.
Nathan Leopold: Jo Parsons.
Richard Loeb: Ben Woods.
Voices of Parole Board Members: Lee Mead and Patricia Quinn.
Voice of Radio Announcer: Les Dennis.
Director: Guy Retallack.
Designer/Costume: James Turner.
Lighting: Richard Williamson.
Sound: Peter Russell.
Musical Director: Tim Turner.
Choreographer: Paul Harris.
8, 9 May 8pm The Lowry (Studio) Salford 0843 208 6000 www.thelowry.com
15, 16 May 7.30pm Quarry Theatre St Luke’s Bedford 01234 362335 www.bedfordtheatre.co.uk
22, 23 May 7.30pm The Old Rep Theatre Birmingham 0121 359 9444 www.oldreptheatre.co.uk
3 June 7.30pm Mumford Theatre Cambridge 0845 196 2320/01223 352932 www.anglia.co.uk/ruskin/en/home/…/mumford_theatre/
5 June 8pm Eden Court Theatre Inverness 01463 234234 www.eden-court.co.uk
6 June 7.30pm Square Chapel Halifax 01422 349422 www.squarechapel.co.uk
7 June 7.30pm Fairfield Halls (Ashcroft Theatre) Croydon 020 8688 9291 www.fairfield.co.uk