Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story ★★★★ Jermyn Street Theatre | Jan 13 - Feb 5, 2022


In 1924, the press dubbed the murder of young Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb "the crime of the century." The public were horrified and captivated by what seemed the child's senseless slaughter. The question haunting everyone was why two affluent and apparently intelligent young men killed the boy. When hearing about this production the question that might come to mind is why would this particularly grisly event become the subject for a musical. Although the genre, often associated with more light-hearted subjects, has seen some darker, almost operatic, themes in shows like Sondheim's Assassins or Passion, can this particularly shocking subject matter work? Let's just say this production is worthy of inclusion in the that company. Thrill Me is a fascinating study of obsession and codependency in which Stephen Dolginoff extends the range of the genre musically and dramatically. Matthew Parker's tight direction ensures that our interest never flags, and Bart Lambert as Leopold is mesmerising. His characterisation of neediness is both nuanced and compelling, while Jack Reitman is simply perfect as the psychotic bully, Loeb. His shallow bravado and menacing control is never overplayed. For us, the chemistry between the two characters was enough to explain the event that became the nation's obsession and we didn't need the revelation that tied things up. This is a dark story that has fascinated playwrights and film makers ever since it took place, and we predict that this musical iteration will leave you transfixed.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Steve Gregson.

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