Review: 'Drama King' a Triumphant Conclusion to the Nicky and Noah Mysteries

Christopher Verleger READ TIME: 2 MIN.

The mythological King Arthur famously said, "A kingdom thrives when justice is served, and equality is upheld." Coincidentally, those lofty, inspiring words ring true for "Drama King," the 18th and presumably final entry in Joe Cosentino's ferociously entertaining Nicky and Noah mystery series, where our favorite gaggle of thespians from Treemeadow College rewrite Arthurian legend for their latest campy musical escapade, "Knights in Tights."

Welcome to Vermont's version of Camelot, featuring theater professors and husbands, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, cast respectively as King Arthur and Lancelot, with Department Chair Martin Anderson, who penned the script, as Guinevere, and his husband, the show's producer, Ruben Markinson, portraying Merlin.

In this libidinous adaptation, you won't hear Lancelot lament to Guinevere, "If Ever I Would Leave You," but rather confess, "I'm a Man's Man, Man." Instead of King Arthur wondering, "What Do the Simple Folk Do," Merlin advises Young Arthur to "Gently Pull Out Your Sword from My Stone," and when the nights of the roundtable gather round in a circle, it is most certainly not to join forces and strategize a battle plan.

Much like the irresistibly irreverent innuendo (try saying that three times fast, as Nicky would undoubtedly suggest), "Knights in Tights" boasts another inevitable Treemeadow College production trademark: multiple cold-blooded murders. This time, the killings hit home, literally, since all five victims are from the same family, and all of them were vicious, universally hated theater critics, which makes for a list of suspects with motives as numerous as Republican conspiracy theories (again, as Nicky would attest).

Could it have been Bernardo Anita, the music professor who ended his relationship with one of the victims and then received a vengeful, scathing review that caused his show to close? Or Wang Fong, the graduate assistant who was also defamed in print after he rejected one of the deceased's sexual advances? And what about theater major Nathan Masterson, who was libelously branded a thief by one of the fatally wounded? Let us not rule out Tevye Perchik, a fellow reviewer whose work was plagiarized after one of the five casualties refused to hire him.

As usual, the lineup of potential culprits continuously lengthens, making the effort to identify the guilty party all the more exciting and intriguing, along with the burgeoning romantic entanglements among the members of the cast, and the customary sleuthing executed by Nicky and Noah's entourage. During one of the hilarious (and equally ridiculous) role playing scenarios, Noah, Martin, and Ruben are disguised as composers Andrew Lloyd Webfoot, Stephen Soundheimer, and Oscar Hammertoe.

"Drama King" delivers in spades what readers have come to expect with this series: a clever, creative whodunit with colorful characters and a veritable race to the finish; witty, rapid-fire dialogue that includes hilarious, albeit alarmingly accurate, political analogies and observations; tender, touching moments of adoration and affection; and the resounding importance of family, friendship, and following your passion, both personally and professionally.

In their own right, Nicky and Noah are both kings, and if the time has now come to bid them farewell, the reader can rest easy knowing their kingdom is in good hands.

"Drama King: A Nicky and Noah Mystery" is available now.

by Christopher Verleger

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.

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