I went to watch an off-Broadway show on Saturday, Perfect Crime - a play that could not have been more aptly named and no, this is not in reference to the plot. The convolutions of this inane murder mystery would make the Theory of Relativity seem like a nursery rhyme. I had to read the 17 point, 2 page FAQ sheet that was distributed at the end of the show, twice to get some blood running back in my frozen brain. The rest of the body had to be kept soaked overnight in single malt to get back a semblance of normalcy. The first question answered in the FAQ sheet was " Who killed Whom?" I had a good mind to return the sheet striking off the answer and instead writing "It’s my will to live that you have killed, you bloody morons!" There were about 40 odd people along with some close family in the theatre and we all looked at each other empathetically and a collective decision to let go of such suicidal thoughts was silently taken.
This is not the first bad play that I have watched in my life, though I would rate it among the best worst 'entertainment' that I have ever been exposed to. What questions your belief in God is the fact that this show happens to be the longest running play in the history of New York theatre and has run more than 12000 times since it started in 1987 exactly 30 years ago to this date. The fact that people are still turning up to watch this positively abysmal show, paying their hard earned money for the tickets and not heading straight to the police station with complaints of mental harassment, makes it the most Perfect Crime by any stretch of imagination. Slow claps to the people associated with the show that brings us to the cast of the show.
The show has four actors. Three of them may well have been nails stuck in the walls of the set and they wouldn’t have been noticed any more or less than they actually were. One of them, playing a lunatic, made a lot of effort wearing wigs, cross dressing and hamming his guts out and only managed to get some bleeding ears in the audience. The other two uselessly share screen space and affect other sensory organs adversely in the course of the two hours which seem like two days though.
And then there is the protagonist played by a lady named Catherine Russel. She is in the Guinness Book of World records and it isn’t because of evading arrest for the longest possible time as my first guess would have been. This lady has acted in each one of these 12000 shows but for 4 and thus holds the record for the most performances as a character in a play. Take a pause and absorb the gargantuan nature of her feat. This show has been running 8 shows a week for thirty long years without a single break and Catherine Russel has been in each and every one of them. She has never taken a sick day or a vacation in these years and she has been playing the same role, uttering the exact same lines every day for the past thirty years. It is like the movie 'Groundhog Day' but just played out in reality. On gaining this knowledge, I lost all my heart to file the written complaint about the show and its grave adverse impact on humanity. I realised that this poor lady has been living through this pain for three long decades and no end seemed in sight for her. When monotony has a bad day, he seemingly goes to Catherine for comfort. My pain suddenly seemed so trivial in comparison. Some experiences in life have a deeply humbling effect. This was one of them.
This was my first brush with the famous New York shows. It has left me scarred but the wound shall heal and the pain subside, I think. Even if it doesn’t, I will think of Catherine and gain inspiration in life.