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Carpenter Square neither dies onstage nor slays audiences with comedy/drama 'Murderers'

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Jeffrey Hatcher's homicidal comedy/drama "Murderers" opens with three actors announcing, "I am a murderer." It recalls the old television show "To Tell the Truth," on which two impostors and one real subject introduced themselves as the same person.

Presented by Carpenter Square Theatre at Stage Center and directed by Shawn Hicks, "Murderers" consists of three monologues reflecting common motives for the eponymous crime: greed, revenge and what seems to be vigilante justice, but is really just thrill killing.

The play bears little charm, and the CST production is uneven. Hatcher's stories are far-fetched, ending in ironic twists that are poor imitations of O. Henry, and don't even need to be staged. They would be just as effective "? probably more so "? if read as short stories.

INHERITANCE
In the first scene, "The Man Who Married His Mother-in-Law," Joe DiBello plays Gerald Halverson, who weds his mother-in-law in order to inherit her estate without paying the taxes. If Gerald had talked to a good accountant about estate taxes, he could have saved himself a lot of trouble and ended up with a tidy sum after all. Of course, Hatcher would not have had a scene, so why confuse audiences with the facts?

Next comes Linda McDonald playing Lucy Stickler in a scene titled "Margaret Faydle Comes to Town." It's the old shtick about a philandering husband and a floozy of a family friend. The story is Hitchcockian in complexity and resolution.

In "Match Wits with Minka Lupino," Kris Schinske plays the most psychopathic of our three murderers and one you would least expect to be a serial killer. Unless an eccentric, gouty, brandy-swigging writer of clich

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