It’s 1958 and Nathan Leopold is attending his prison review. The stage is sparse and dark, with the use of crackled audio to depict the review board as they deliberate Leopold’s parole.
Leopold and Loeb’s story is notorious; they believed they could commit the ‘perfect crime.’ And, that is exactly what they attempted to do in Chicago in 1924.
Jo Parsons takes on the role of Nathan Leopold, acting as protagonist, as his prison review is interspersed with flashbacks to 1924. He delivers an intensely beautiful performance as he appears to be swept up in the events that take place. His volatile relationship with Richard Loeb, played expertly by Ben Woods, make for an incredibly haunting duo.
Loeb’s obsession with crime rapidly becomes a hunger for something more than just petty thefts and arson. He wants to commit murder. Although it feels odd to laugh at such a dark and disturbing subject, there was a particularly humorous song, The Plan, where Loeb sets out to kill his younger brother because ‘he’d never touch my things' and 'I’d get the bigger room.'
On reflection, they decide to choose a young local boy from the school. As the plan comes together, Loeb sets out to lure the young boy in the song Roadster. Delivered masterfully by Woods, this harrowing part of the story really stayed with you long after leaving the auditorium.
Other particular musical highlights included My Glasses/Just Lay Low, which was tension-fuelled and Life Plus 99 Years, making for a stunning finale. Parsons and Woods depict the intimacy of Leopold and Loeb’s relationship startlingly well and these cold-blooded killers were unnervingly brought to life on stage. Not only that, without revealing any spoilers, the twist at the end added yet another layer of eeriness to the play.
With musical direction from Tom Turner and direction from Guy Retallack, Stephen Dolginoff’s musical, Thrill Me makes for an eye-opening experience that people should go out and see.
Thrill Me plays at The Old Rep until 23 May. Tickets are just £15, with concessions available at £13. To book, please call the Box Office on 0121 359 9444, or visit www.oldreptheatre.co.uk (booking fees apply).
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